Kuala Lumpur: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called for a new global resolve to fight terrorism and spoke of the need for unimpeded commerce in the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions.
Modi had a hectic schedule on the second day of his visit to Malaysia, addressing the 10th East Asia Summit (EAS), unveiling a statue of Swami Vivekananda, meeting Malay-Indian political leaders and delivering a speech to a diaspora gathering in which he sought to revitalise the bonds between India and the Indian-origin people in this southeast Asian nation.
Besides India, the countries that participate in the annual East Asia Summit held immediately after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit are Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.
In his address at the East Asia Summit, Modi said “the barbaric terrorist strikes” in Paris, Ankara, Beirut, Mali and on the Russian aircraft that was brought down in Egypt’s Sinai last month were a stark reminder that the shadow of terror stretched across the world.
“We must build new global resolve and new strategies for combating terrorism, without balancing it against political considerations,” the prime minister added.
Without naming Pakistan, he said no country should use or support terrorism.
“There is no distinction between groups. There are no sanctuaries. There are no funds. There is no access to arms. But, we also have to work within our societies and with our youth. I welcome the commitment to de-link religion from terrorism and the efforts to promote human values that define every faith,” Modi said.
Stating that since his government came to power 18 months ago, no region has seen greater engagement from India than the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions, Modi outlined his vision of five elements for an Asian century, including a regional architecture for security cooperation.
Describing the ocean as a pathway to peace and prosperity, Modi said India shares with Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) “a commitment to freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded commerce in accordance with accepted principles of international law…”
Referring to the disputes in the South China Sea, Modi said India hoped that all parties will abide by the declaration on the conduct and the guidelines on the implementation.
“Parties must also redouble efforts for early adoption of a Code of Conduct on the basis of consensus,” he said.
He also sought an early conclusion of a regional comprehensive economic partnership.
Later in his address to the diaspora, Modi sought to enhance India’s connect with the people of Indian origin in Malaysia with a lavish praise for their accomplishments and a string of announcements, including naming a cultural centre here after freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and one million dollar as additional fund to corpus of India-students Trust Fund.
Of the nearly 30 million population of Malaysia, around two million people are of Indian origin.
As over 15,000 people of Indian origin chanted “Modi, Modi” at the Malaysian International Exhibition and Convention Centre here, the Indian prime minister acknowledged the large proportion of people of Tamil majority among the Indian diaspora in this southeast Asian nation by starting with the greeting, “Vanakkam”.
Modi said his government was prepared to work with the Malaysian government to build a memorial to Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in Malaysia during World War II.
He said India and Malaysia should recognise each other’s degrees, on which he would talk with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
He talked of India and Malaysia drawing strength from their respective diversities.
“India is nation where everyone has equal rights that the constitution guarantees, the court protects and government defends,” Modi said.
He also spoke on the issue of terrorism, describing it as the biggest threat to the world today.
Modi said independent India owed a debt of gratitude to Malay-Indians.
“Your forefathers in thousands came forward to join Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army.”
“India is not confined to its territory. India exists in every Indian in every part of the world,” he added.
While unveiling a statue of Swami Vivekananda at the Ramakrishna Mission complex here, he said that people should instil the values of the great Indian sage and philosopher in their mind and soul.
He met a delegation of the Malaysian Indian Congress and other Malay-Indian parliamentarians and lawmakers.
Modi wraps up his Malaysia visit on Monday and leaves for Singapore on the second and last leg of his tour.