Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad believes that greater effort must be made to help Asean become a domestic market for its member countries.
Malaysia, he said, believes that Asean is a strong economic region and should capitalise on its strengths.
“Asean has a population of 600 million people. It requires a lot of things so Asean should be a domestic market for all its member states.
“We want to see Asean become a strong regional organisation. With dedication, we can do that,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said while Asean leaders meet frequently, its respective ministers must come together and know each other better so that it can resolve any problem.
Dr Mahathir was speaking at a joint press conference with Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha following their bilateral meeting on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Prayut said he and Dr Mahathir attach great importance to the issue of cooperation within the Asean framework.
He said this is especially important given that Thailand is set to assume the Asean chair in 2019.
“We have a shared goal which is to build a strong, people-centred Asean Community, in which Asean members move forward together, leaving no one behind, and strive to enhance connectivity and sustainability in all aspects.
“We want to make sure that Asean becomes a force that can rise up to global challenges,” he said.
Prayut said he and Dr Mahathir are of the view that Asean members must exercise utmost prudence in managing challenges in order to stay united and maintain Asean centrality in their pursuit, with other countries, of lasting peace, stability and prosperity.