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UNITY IN DIVERSITY: THE ASEAN PERSPECTIVE IN

ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Nur Syazwina Aniqah Binti Nor Adzam


Universiti Malaysia Perlis, School of Manufacturing Engineering
Wan Nur Radhiah Binti Wan Zakaria
Universiti Malaysia Perlis, School of Bioprocess Engineering
Noor Thahirah Binti Ahmad Radzi
Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Faculty of Engineering Technology

ABSTRACT

The aim of this paper is to discuss the issue of regional integration and regional
identity-building in Asia. The idea is to problematise economic cooperation in the quest
for the unity in diversity by relating the efforts of integration to the issues of multiethnicity, national identity-building and multicultural societies in times of globalisation.
The article consists of three broad themes intending to capture the tourism may affect the
economy of the county by cooperation; cooperation between Japan, New Zealand and
Malaysia towards better economic cooperation; and the power of outside investment
which show the importance to have a very good quality of investment. This analysis is
explorative in character and attempts to combine different bodies of literature in order to
better understand some of the contradictory processes related to regional identity-building
in Southeast Asia. A tentative conclusion is that without an accommodating, inclusive
and pluralistic society, the creation of a common regional identity will remain an elitist
political project.

Keywords: Unity in Diversity; Tourism; Investment; Economic Cooperation;

INTRODUCTION

Unity in diversity is a concept of "unity without uniformity and diversity without


fragmentation" that shifts focus from unity based on a mere tolerance of physical,
cultural, linguistic, social, religious, political, ideological and/or psychological
differences towards a more complex unity based on an understanding that difference
enriches human interactions. "Unity in diversity" is a popular motto within and among
nation states, and also in political and social movements. "Malaysia is a multi-racial,
multi-religious society. Its people and its government face long standing social challenges
and not always positive patterns of co-existence and accommodation. We face, as do all
countries, increased pressure and scrutiny created by global trends beyond the control of
any single nation.As a nation, Malaysia is young in almost every way. We have been an
independent country for just over fifty years. We are also young in the sense that 75% of
our population is under forty years of age. While our economy continues to grow, we
consider ourselves a developing country and have the drive and optimism to achieve our
objectives and take a substantive place in the global community.We are widely viewed as
a multi-racial, multi-religious society that has managed its diversity with some success.
We have some of the largest and most independent Indian and Chinese communities
outside of China and India. We are a majority Muslim Malay country and a leading
member of the Islamic world that has, within our national school system, the largest
network of Chinese medium schools outside of Greater China. Our print, broadcast and
online media are multilingual. We are Malay, Chinese, Indian, Orang Asli, Iban and
Kadazan. We are Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu. China is a country with a great
diversity of religious beliefs. The main religions are Buddhism, Taoism, Islam,
Catholicism and Protestantism. Citizens of China may freely choose and express their
religious beliefs, and make clear their religious affiliations. According to incomplete
statistics, there are over 100 million followers of various religious faiths, more than
85,000 sites for religious activities, some 300,000 clergy and over 3,000 religious
organizations throughout China. In addition, there are 74 religious schools and colleges
run by religious organizations for training clerical personnel.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum was established in 1989 and
has become the pre-eminent economic forum in the Asia-Pacific region. Its has 22
member economies. APEC primary purpose is to facilitate economic growth and
prosperity in the region, with the vision of creating a seamless regional economy. APEC
also helps member economies build the institutional capacity to implement and take
advantage of the benefits of trade and investment reform.

As example, the cooperation between New Zealand - Malaysia and Japan - Malaysia
has involves in a broad range economic areas of mutual interest and is supported by
Agreements on trade and the environment and trade and labor matters.

New Zealand and Malaysia cooperation are likely grant duty-free treatment to
imports of liquid milk products and hens eggs of New Zealand origin. For each year, the
quota volume limit of the good trade product is raise about 3% for both liquid milk and
hens eggs. The main benefits are to enhance access to the Malaysian market for New
Zealand goods and services exporters, greater certainty (and thus reduced risk) for New
Zealand businesses about the future trading and investment environment in Malaysia.

Japan and Malaysia cooperation are contribute to further strengthening of economic


partnership between the two countries with participation of their respective industries,
will undertake joint initiatives to further promote competitiveness of autos and auto
components and parts industry in Malaysia for better market expansion. Malaysia and
Japan have agreed to undertake cooperation in several areas such as in the development
of the automotive industry in Malaysia through various avenues including practical
training, 16 trainee development programmes, capacity and capability building
programmes, placement of specialists and programmes for sharing knowledge and
experiences.

The main benefits of the programmes are to improve the auto industrys technology
cooperation, by continuing to foster and improve the auto industrys innovation ability and
competitiveness; further reduce the auto industrys impact on the environment, promote vehicle
safety performance, promote R&D in innovative vehicle technologies, future alternative energy
sources and transportation infrastructure. Also to promote innovation in the area of finance
related to automobile industry and work collectively to enhance the financial sectors support for
the auto industry.

Thus, gains would come from improved market access, business facilitation and greater
efficiency in domestic production in both countries and work together to map-out strategies for
increasing the integration and development of the automotive sector within the region.

Based to a joint press conference with Thailand counterpart Yingluck Shinawatra on


February 21, 2012, Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Sri Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul
Razak said Malaysia and Thailand have identified six potential areas where economic
cooperation can be enhanced. He said these are the automotive industry; managing the rubber
industry particularly in the border areas; food security, energy security; oil and gas; and tourism.
He also stated that Thailand is currently Malaysia's second largest trading partner in ASEAN and
also a major source of tourist arrivals in Malaysia. Referring to IMT-GT Implementation
Blueprint 2012-2016, a novel thematic tourism product that has been identified for promotion is
the Magic Journey along the Traversed Route by Luang Pu Tuad (Thailand) based on a
cultural/religious theme aimed at attracting Buddhists from the IMT-GT subregion as well as
outside the region. Tourist activities will involve not only paying homage to Luang Pu Tuad, one
of the most revered monks in the history of Thailand and Malaysia, but will also involve
awareness and experience of local culture and lifestyles along the journey. The Magic Journey
by Luang Pu Tuad will also connect and integrate with nearby tourism destinations in Songkhla,
Pattani, and Nakhon Si Thammarat in Thailand; and Kedah and Perak States in Malaysia.
Medical Tourism Hub in Southern Thailand will introduce new products in medical tourism by
presenting southern Thailand, together with Malaysia, as a medical tourism hub, based on their
respective areas of expertise. In the long run, both countries should be able to share expertise and
jointly tap into the market for medical tourism based on each countrys distinctive competence,
thus avoiding price competition through the lowering of service standards. A joint marketing
team will promote the medical hub within and outside the region. Medical tourism will also
extend to hotels, accommodations, and restaurants, as well as financial and health insurance
services.

The main economy cooperation between Malaysia and Indonesia is investment. Malaysia
is sending a business delegation along with several ministers, stated Head of the Investment
Coordinating Board (BKPM) Franky Sibarani in Indonesia. This is the great opportunity to
Malaysia to increase the investment in Indonesia. Malaysian investments are in the construction,
food plantation, and food industry sectors. For example several large plantation companies
owned by Malaysian actively expand their estates in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Riau and
Papua such as Sime Darby Berhad (299.263 ha); PPB Group Berhad (182,840 ha); Tabung Haji
(TH) Plantations (83,879 ha); PPB Oil Palm Berhad (25,416 ha); CCB Industrial Products
Holding Berhad (67,611 ha); IOI Corporation Berhad (8,772 ha); LFIB Plantations Sdn Bhd
(17,270 ha); Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (139,746 ha); and Genting Plantation Berhad
(153,830 ha). The BKPM has recorded an increasing trend of Malaysian investment in
Indonesia.In 2014, Malaysias investment realization in Indonesia reached US$1.77 billion and
ranked third among the investing countries in Indonesia.The amount drastically increased as
compared to US$711.26 million recorded in 2013. Malaysia is one of the biggest trading partners
of Indonesia with bilateral trade reaching $17 billion in 2013 and $16.6 billion last year.
Malaysians mostly invest in oil palm, banking, mining, telecommunications and health sectors in
Indonesia.
Besides, the tourism also is the one of the economy cooperation between Malaysia and
Indonesia. Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to promote tourism in the Malacca Strait. Both of
the country will promote each other to make sure the number of tourism increase every year.
Each country will operate shipping and airline services between the two areas. Then they also
discuss to share electricity between Sumatra and Malaysia especially through Riau and Melaka
with the latter using the supply in the day and Sumatra at night, and so, there will be an
interconnection.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion the three broad themes which are in intending to capture the tourism may
affect the economy of the county by cooperation; cooperation between Japan, New Zealand and
Malaysia towards better economic cooperation; and the power of outside investment which show
the importance to have a very good quality of investment will influence the Unity in Diversity
which is in ASEAN Perspective. This analysis is explorative in character and attempts to
combine different bodies of literature in order to better understand some of the contradictory
processes related to regional identity-building in Southeast Asia. A tentative conclusion is that
without an accommodating, inclusive and pluralistic society, the creation of a common regional
identity will remain an elitist political project.

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