ARF - a great opportunity
Sri Lanka's participation in the
14th ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in early August, is both a
signal honour for this country as well as a historic
bridge-building event which will closely integrate us with the
Accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) of the
ARF will, no doubt, enable Sri Lanka to work in cooperation with
the states of the ASEAN region in the area of terror
containment, which is, of course, a number one national and
It is no secret that terror organisations, such as the LTTE,
have been winning ready support from some sections in the
Asia-Pacific region in arms smuggling, money laundering and
kindred shady dealings.
Such clandestine operations have enabled the Tigers to
sustain their terror campaign against the Lankan State and it
would be in this country's interests for Sri Lanka to cooperate
closely with states in the ASEAN region to break these terror
networks which are proving a scourge to the entire region.
This is a most opportune moment to strengthen Lanka's
cooperative links with the ASEAN region because a considerable
number of States in the Asia-Pacific region work very closely
with the US in the latter's 'war on terror'. Therefore, it only
stands to reason that Sri Lanka collaborates solidly with the
ARF in its efforts to strengthen law and order in the region,
because terror is one of our chief concerns.
Particular attention needs to be paid in the area of
inter-State intelligence gathering and sharing which proves
vital in defeating the terror designs of the LTTE.
Apart from strengthening law and order in the Asia-Pacific
region, our entry into closer collaborative and friendship ties
with the ASEAN region could pave the way for stronger
developmental links with the states concerned. For, the
Asia-Pacific region remains the epicentre of global economic
The 'Leaping Tigers' of yesteryear remain an economic force
to contend with and are dynamic centres of economic activity.
Sri Lanka would be only doing herself immense good in terms
of economic growth by seeking closer economic ties with the
Particularly in the area of Foreign Direct Investment, these
ASEAN States would prove most valuable because they are in the
process of looking out for more and more outlets for investment.
We have the case of Malaysian, Japanese and Indonesian firms,
for instance, which are on the look out for sound investment
possibilities in this part of the world.
If investment promotion is to get into top gear all
investment possibilities should be fully explored and exploited.
We need to look out for newer and newer markets for our goods
and services. From this point of view, ARF would prove a grand
opportunity which is waiting to be fully utilised.