He said Malaysia’s stand on the dispute that it should not be discussed separately among member countries that had made overlapping claims over the area.
The discussion on the setting up of the COC at the 34th ASEAN summit in Bangkok should be done by ASEAN as a group with China, he said.
“COC which will be debated by the year end must be done by ASEAN as a group. We will stress this matter as there have been attempts by one or two of the ASEAN member countries to discuss it individually,” he told the Malaysian media after attending ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) here today.
COC is seen to be more effective in ensuring peace in the disputed area compared to the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea.
Meanwhile, Saifuddin said, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad will be attending the 34th ASEAN Summit’s opening ceremony tomorrow morning, followed by a retreat session where he is expected to raise the Rohingya ethnic refugee issue.
He said Dr Mahathir has fully supported the theme “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”, chosen by Thailand.
Additionally, Dr Mahathir is also expected to raise ASEAN’s economic issues in an effort to boost intra-ASEAN trade that currently stood at less than 25 per cent of total ASEAN’s trade.
“The Prime Minister is also expected to make one or two suggestions on how ASEAN economy can be strengthened by taking into account its population of more than 600 million as well as to enhance close cooperation that will benefit member countries,” he said.