The Malaysia-Australia Dialogue on Asian Futures 2009

12 August 2009 to 16 August 2009

Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and the Centre for Dialogue, La Trobe University. 

Penang, Malaysia

The Malaysia-Australia Dialogue on Asian Futures was held in Penang on 12-16 August 2009. Attending scholars scrutinised the economic, social, environmental and security challenges for the Asia Pacific. This initiative was seen as contributing positively to the future development of the region.

The following excerpts are taken from the joint statement which resulted from the dialogue session:

Illegal immigration, human smuggling and human trafficking are major development and national security concerns for both Malaysia and Australia. Most often poverty is a major cause of this rise in migration which is exacerbated by weak legislation, lax border controls, corrupt control systems and the power of organised crime. Innovative approaches are needed to address this issue in a more humane way in the Asian region. Making it easier for legal migration, increasing the number of work visas for specialised categories of workers and good governance will help manage this challenge.

Science, technology and innovation are important drivers in economic and social development. This is why more technologically advanced countries are usually more economically advanced. In the Asia-Pacific it is important that such advances are compatible with indigenous knowledge systems that have enabled local communities to live close to nature in relative harmony and in sustainable fashion. Past development paradigms have revealed that science and technology application without values can lead to crass materialism, resource depletion and exploitation. There is a strong need to embrace a pattern of resource use that meets human needs while preserving the environment for future generations.

The need to reduce carbon emissions has revitalised interest in nuclear power.  However, inherent in nuclear power is the threat of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. As a result there may be a need for an agreed international protocol over and above the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on nuclear weapons to facilitate the adoption of nuclear energy for peaceful reasons. The review conference of the NPT in 2010 is likely to be of critical importance both for the survival of the treaty itself and for the overall future of the Asia Pacific. Malaysia and Australia share important interests in working actively with like-minded Asian countries to bring forward constructive proposals in the lead-up to the Review Conference.

A decision was taken for the Dialogue which began in Penang, to continue in Melbourne over the following 12 to 18 months.