Malaysis's Prime Minister at Future of Asia Conference Stresses
Malaysia's Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi,
wants to see Asean intensify its agricultural cooperation to
manage escalating food prices in the region.
"Co-operating in and facilitating the supply of rice among
Asean members would be a priority in the wake of the fast
emerging food security problem.... This includes the
strengthening of the Asean food security reserve and the East
Asia emergency rice reserve involving the Asean-plus-three
dialogue partners (China, Japan and South Korea)," the prime
minister said at a press conference in conjunction with the
Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo yesterday.
..... "We have to work together towards increasing production of
food, improving yield and introducing biotechnology towards
building a stockpile and ensuring food security," he said.
.... Food security has become the region's biggest concern as the
prices of food, especially rice, are at an all-time high in
nearly all countries. The rising prices of food, fuel, and other
commodities around the world are decreasing the value of incomes
and causing widespread hardship among the region's poor.
Inflation is at a 26-year high in Singapore, a 12-year high in
China and a 10-year high in Hong Kong and Taiwan. In Malaysia,
inflation would have been high as well if not for government
subsidies provided for some essential commodities, food and fuel.
Earlier in his keynote address, Abdullah expressed optimism
about East Asia becoming a region of true peace and real
prosperity, saying that “there can be no doubt that regional peace and prosperity
begins at the national level.” "Essentially, salvation lies in our own hands," he said,
adding that East Asian countries should not focus just on what
each could do on its own, but what they could do together.