Thai PM to push for people-centred ASEAN community

This year's summit is expected to be overshadowed by territorial disputes between some member countries and China, which has recently created new island footholds in contested seas.

Promoting ASEAN centrality within the world community will be among the issues to be raised by Thailand during the ASEAN Summit, according to Sek Wanmethi, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.

Thailand will also encourage more mutual co-operation, particularly on border economic zones, Government Spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp said.

He said that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha would propose at the ASEAN Summit, to be held tomorrow and Tuesday, that ASEAN should jointly strengthen the agriculture sector so that the region becomes the world's food supplier.

The grouping should also prepare to handle the negative impact from sophisticated threats, the spokesman said.

Malaysia will propose at the summit for the leaders to sign three documents - the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on a People-Centred ASEAN; the Langkawi Declaration on Global Movement of Moderates; and the Declaration on Institutionalising the Resilience of ASEAN and Its Communities and Peoples to Disasters and Climate Change.

Prayut will leave for Kuala Lumpur tomorrow to attend the summit, which will be held this year under the theme of "Our People, Our Community, Our Vision", with the nine other ASEAN leaders. The summit is the first this year under the chairmanship of Malaysia.

The ASEAN leaders will meet representatives of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, ASEAN Business Advisory Council, ASEAN youth and civil society. Prayut on Tuesday will attend the Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle summit on the Malaysian island of Langkawi before returning to Bangkok on the same day.

In Kuala Lumpur, senior Southeast Asian officials addressed mutual issues yesterday such as conflict with China over maritime claims ahead of their annual regional summit amid beefed-up securityat the venue in Malaysia's economic capital.

China's creation of new island footholds in contested seas will hover over a Southeast Asian summit that has become an annual test of the region's nerve in standing up to its massive neighbour.