A single time-zone for ASEAN?


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (far right) having a chat with the New Straits Times managing editor (business/lifestyle) Mustapha Kamil Mohd Janor (far left) at the 45th edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF) held annually in Davos, Switzerland. 

The WEF is where key policy makers, international political leaders, captains of industries, carefully chosen intellectuals, society leaders as well journalists converge. 

As the chair of ASEAN, Malaysia took the opportunity to raise ASEAN's profile at the WEF.

Malaysia brought ASEAN issues to the fore on the second day of meetings, including exploring the possibility of a single time zone throughout the region.

Currently, ASEAN's 10 nations' time ranges from +6.30 GMT (Myanmar) to +8.00 GMT (Eastern Indonesia). 

In a panel session on ASEAN, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar said he communicated Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's desire to see closer cooperation among member states as this is an important year of which ASEAN wants to turn itself into a single community.

Wahid was representing Najib who had to leave proceedings at the WEF yesterday to attend the funeral of Saudi Arabian monarch, King Abdullah Abdulaziz in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

He said among others ASEAN needs to hasten integration of the regional banking system. Last year, Indonesian central bank Bank Indonesia and Bank Negara Malaysia signed a heads of agreement for establishment of an ASEAN banking framework, which ultimately would enable banks in southeast Asia to venture into new markets within the region.

"This is important as banks has an important role to play in facilitating intra-Asean investments," Wahid said.

The discussions also touched on efforts to ensure whatever economic progress charted by ASEAN would be felt by the people, in line with Najib's people-centered economic agenda, Wahid said.