PUTRAJAYA: An ASEAN common time zone would be in line with the formation of an integrated ASEAN Community by the end of this year, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said on Monday (Apr 20).
He said Malaysia believes that having a common time zone for ASEAN capitals would further boost the sense of 'we feeling' and togetherness among the ASEAN people.
"I will also be raising this issue with my ASEAN colleagues at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting prior to the summit in Kuala Lumpur next week," he said in an email interview with Bernama.
Anifah said that ASEAN senior officials would have further discussions on the proposal at their next meeting during the upcoming 26th ASEAN Summit on April 26 and 27.
He pointed out that ASEAN foreign ministers had agreed on the merit of having a common time zone for the capitals of ASEAN member countries during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat in Kota Kinabalu on Jan 28 this year.
The ASEAN senior officials also had an extensive deliberation on the proposal at the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting in Kuala Lumpur on March 10, he said.
"Malaysia's paper on a Common Time Zone for ASEAN Capitals was also circulated to ASEAN member states at that meeting," he added.
Anifah noted that as of now, most ASEAN member states were still in the process of studying and consulting their respective government agencies on the ASEAN Common Time Zone proposal.
"The ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta has also been tasked to compile the views of ASEAN member states on the common time zone for ASEAN capitals so as to facilitate further discussion on this issue," he added.
In February this year, Indonesian President Joko Widodo during his three-day state visit here voiced his desire to hold discussions regarding the common time zone at the regional organisation's level as soon as possible.
Last month, Prime Minister Najib Razak had forwarded the ASEAN time zone proposal to visiting Myanmar President Thein Sein during their talks in the federal administrative capital. The president said he would consider the proposal favourably.
Among benefits of a common time zone for the region is the enhancement of trade and cooperation among governments, and between ASEAN and other countries in Asia.
A common time zone allows more time for communication; coordinating share market activities; enhancing flight operation system and improving business and banking network in the Asian region.
Malaysia assumed the chairmanship of ASEAN on Jan 1 this year from Myanmar.
The two-day summit will be held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and Langkawi.
Themed 'Our People, Our Community, Our Vision', Malaysia's vision throughout the chairmanship is the creation of a people-centred ASEAN involving all sectors of society in the grouping's activities.
Formed on Aug 8, 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, ASEAN's membership has expanded to include Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.