KUALA LUMPUR - Twelve ministries involved in carrying out Malaysia's work when it becomes ASEAN chairman next year will join hands to enhance public awareness about the regional grouping.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the ministries had agreed to conduct outreach and engagement programmes targeting their respective stakeholders.
"Work needs to be done from now to explain ASEAN and the benefits of closer integration because many Malaysians still do not know what ASEAN is and how it will affect them," he said after chairing an inter-agency meeting on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hasan Malek and Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz also attended the meeting.
The AEC will create a single market and production base in the region and is slated for rollout at the end of next year.
The AEC is one of three pillars of the ASEAN Community, the other two being political-security and socio-cultural.
Mustapa, who will be ASEAN's coordinating minister for the AEC next year, said misconceptions about ASEAN's integration also needed to be addressed.
He said some farmers were worried that it would result in flooding of cheap food imports that would affect their income, while some local graduates were concerned that it could cause stiffer competition for jobs due to the freer movement of labour across borders.
He said these fears were unfounded as the interest of farmers, local workers and other stakeholders would still be protected.