Connectivity with South Korea can help ASEAN fully reap its potential – PM

BUSAN (South Korea), ASEAN is blessed with vast opportunities and rich resources but the region has not been able to capitalise on its full potential due to a shortage of advanced, efficient and sustainable infrastructure, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Therefore, ASEAN according to him, is looking at South Korea which possessed the required expertise in infrastructure construction, economic expansion, smart cities development and innovation to enhance the region's connectivity and economy.

Speaking during the Plenary Session 11 at the ASEAN-South Korea Commemorative Summit 2019 today, Dr Mahathir said it is essential to ensure greater connectivity between ASEAN and South Korea to ensure both parties could learn from each another.

We are heartened by South Korea's New Southern Policy, which elevates South Korea's strategic ties with ASEAN. Therefore it is important for us to find synergies between our policies, he said.

The plenary session, entitled Enhancing Connectivity Towards Prosperity and Sustainability Greater, was also attended by South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and other all ASEAN's leaders.

Dr Mahathir also emphasised on the importance of connectivity especially in facilitating the creation of a seamless and borderless region, facilitate businesses, bypass traditional phases of technological development and capture the opportunities presented by the new economy.

Enhancing shared access to innovations and technologies also helps to achieve a competitive economy, sustainable development and high quality of life.

To achieve this, the masterplan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 (MPAC2025) is integral to building the ASEAN community and South Korea's support for its implementation is appreciated, noted the Prime Minister.

For Malaysia, Dr Mahathir said the country is pleased with the progress made in smart cities development projects that are jointly undertaken with South Korea in Kota Kinabalu, specifically in smart water management and smart new township development.

On socio-cultural corporation, Dr Mahathir proposed for the regional grouping and South Korea to develop more diverse and comprehensive programmes on arts, culture and social understanding to further strengthen people to people links.

ASEAN and South Korea also need to strengthen education cooperation by promoting and increasing academic exchanges as well as leveraging on existing networks and programs such as the ASEAN University Network (AUN) and ASEAN � Korea Academic Exchange Programme.

As we further strengthen and promote people to people exchanges, better air transportation linkages and connectivity between ASEAN and South Korea would be pivotal.

We look forward to an early conclusion of a more liberal and mutually beneficial air services agreement between ASEAN and South Korea that would further enhance people to people connectivity, said the Prime Minister.

Source: Office of the Prime Minster Malaysia