BANGKOK: ONE can be excused for being unaware that the Asia Co-operation Dialogue (ACD) is having its second Leaders Summit in this metropolitan city famed for its tom yam soup, mango sticky rice and vibrant nightlife.
In fact, one can even be forgiven for not knowing the existence of this Dialogue for unlike other international groupings, this one has not been making headlines.
Perhaps because unlike, say, Asean which has been around since 1967, ACD is a relatively young establishment being inaugurated in 2002.
It was only after 10 years into its existence did leaders of the Dialogue member states meet in Kuwait in 2012 and after a four-year hiatus, the second summit will take place here over the next few days.
For the uninitiated, here are some quick facts about the ACD.
Mooted by Thailand, this is a continent-wide forum that aims to be the “missing link” in Asia by incorporating every Asian country and building an Asian Community without duplicating other organisations.
The idea is for the member states to act together to contribute to sustainable growth for Asia and beyond, explore opportunities that can help reduce poverty, expand the trade and financial market within Asia and increase the bargaining power of member countries.
They have identified 20 areas of co-operation such as connectivity; science, technology and innovation; education and human resource development; food, energy and water security; and promoting inclusive and sustainable development.
From 18 countries, including Malaysia at the start of the Dialogue, its membership has since expanded to a total of 34 nations - Afghanistan, China, India, Japan, Kyrgyz, Qatar, Oman, Korea, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia, among others.
Albeit a new platform, there are already success stories that have emerged from the Dialogue, including the realisation of a Malaysian initiative, the Asia e-University.
Malaysia had promoted the importance of education and human resource development as it wanted other partners to realise the need to equip people with skills and knowledge in order for other nation building efforts to succeed.
The result was the setting up of the university in 2007 in Kuala Lumpur and this is testimony of Malaysia’s role as the prime-mover of online education among ACD countries.
At the coming Dialogue, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will present Malaysia’s views on the need to ensure better connectivity among member states.
Malaysian ambassador to Thailand Datuk Nazirah Hussain said the Prime Minister was expected to raise this as efficient network and connectivity would translate to stronger social and economic growth.
”The Prime Minister’s participation at the Summit reflects Malaysia’s continued commitment to strengthen the ACD as an effective regional forum,” she added.
On a personal note, the Prime Minister sees the Summit as an opportunity to engage with his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-o-Cha.
“The Prime Minister has always enjoyed warm relations with his Thai counterpart and wants to have the same kind of ties with Prayut,’” said an official.And what better way to build relations than to support the cause initiated by the other. After all, Prayut was in Putrajaya just two months ago for the International Conference on Blue Ocean Strategy which Malaysia started.