KUALA LUMPUR - After reaching a milestone this year with the creation of ASEAN Community, next immediate task for the regional grouping will be to formulate a roadmap to chart its future direction.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the roadmap would provide the basis of how ASEAN member states could further strengthen unity and integration over the next 10 years, up to 2025.
"These are crucial undertakings for charting a bold, inclusive and forward-looking future for ASEAN and its people," he said at the opening of the 26th ASEAN Summit held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here.
ASEAN's 10 members take turns to chair the grouping on an annual rotation basis.
Since its inception 48 years ago, Malaysia has chaired the grouping chairman in 1997, 1997, 2005 and again this year.
Najib said further efforts had to be made so citizens feel their future is tied to ASEAN's and Malaysia had to put in place more people-centred programmes to achieve this.
"We must engage with and constantly listen to them. That is why the Leaders Programme at this Summit will include a series of four interfaces with different segments of society - with youth, civil society organisations, business groups and parliamentarians," he added.
He said ASEAN should publicly recognise and celebrate outstanding organisations and individuals who had contributed significantly to the community-building process.
"With that in mind, Malaysia will host the inaugural ASEAN People's Awards at the 27th Summit later this year, where we celebrate the exceptional achievements of those who are honoured," said Najib.