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(From Malaysian Business)
THE recently concluded East Asia Summit (EAS) was full of photo opportunities of leaders of some very powerful nations. Topping the Kodak- moment list would be Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi extending his hand to borrow a pen from his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao during the signing of the summit declaration. Both nations have been at loggerheads for some time now. While altering nothing on the political front, both the premiers touched the hearts of the delegates with their gesture.
On that note, is the EAS any different? Beyond the niceties and exchange of pleasantries, will it make any difference to the regional political map? Is it the beginning of something beautiful or merely another grand- but-pointless forum? Malaysia mooted the idea of an EAS-like forum in 1991. Now that it has finally taken root more than two decades later, will it generate new opportunities for member nations?
In a region packed with ongoing rivalries and saddled with weighty political baggage, the summit was somewhat of a milestone.
The Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the EAS is very clear on the role of the region: It's a 'source of …