By Invitation

Thailand's twin challenges as Asean chair

Regional challenges and domestic divisions will determine if Thailand's chairmanship of Asean next year will go better than the last round.

Unlike its peers in South-east Asia, Thailand's chairmanship of Asean next year will face challenges not just from the regional neighbourhood and the world beyond, but also from home soil where divisions and polarisation have destabilised the country for more than a decade.

The last time Thailand held its rotational turn at Asean's helm from July 2008 to December 2009, it was marked by street protests that ended up disrupting top-level meetings and abruptly sending Asia-Pacific leaders home prematurely. This time, Thailand will have plenty to be worried about at home, but well short of the protests that marked its hosting a decade ago.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2018, with the headline 'Thailand's twin challenges as Asean chair'. Print Edition | Subscribe