Terrorism and people smuggling are among the pressing issues to be addressed at the ongoing ASEAN meeting on transnational crime, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He said regional leaders at the 10th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) would also be discussing two other emerging trends - wildlife trafficking and timber smuggling - alongside eight existing issues.
"A bold decision has to be made due to new types of transnational crime, as reported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
"This would include illicit trade of nature and cultural heritage, illegal wildlife trade, counterfeit consumer goods and illicit trade in wood-based products, electrical and electronic waste (e-waste), ozone-depleting substances, and fraudulent essential medicines," he said in his AMMTC opening remarks here yesterday.
At the four-day meeting ending tomorrow, ASEAN leaders had initially listed eight issues of focus: drug trafficking, terrorism, economic crime, human trafficking, money laundering, piracy, cyber crime and smuggling of firearms.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said transnational crime was closely linked to the movement of people across borders, which was proving to be difficult to address.
"This issue remains one of the main security threats in the region, and it reached critical level in mid-2015, impacting a few ASEAN member countries, including Malaysia, following a sudden influx of irregular migrants.
"Against this backdrop, Malaysia had to convene the Special ASEAN Meeting on Transnational Crime concerning irregular movement of persons in South-East Asia in July to find durable solutions," he said.
At a press conference later, Dr Ahmad Zahid said the AMMTC would be held annually from now on, instead of once every two years, as there were many issues to address.
ASEAN leaders are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding soon with one of its dialogue partners, China, for collaboration on non-traditional security issues.