Singapore seeks consensus on tackling Asean challenges

(From left) Laos Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith; Malaysian Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Ramlan Ibrahim; Myanmar International Cooperation Minister Kyaw Tin; Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano; Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister a
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with (clockwise from left) President Joko Widodo of Indonesia; Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha of Thailand; Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos (partly hidden); Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam; Tun Musa Hitam of Malaysia; Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei; and Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia. Also at the table were President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and President Win Myint of Myanmar. PHOTO: ASEAN2018 ORGANISING COMMITTEE

It hopes to work with fellow members to tackle transboundary threats like terrorism, says PM

Singapore does not expect all regional issues to be resolved during its chairmanship of Asean, but it hopes to develop consensus on an overall approach to them, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

He was addressing leaders and delegates from the regional grouping's 10 member states at a working dinner at the Istana yesterday, as part of the 32nd Asean Summit.

PM Lee said Singapore hopes to work with its Asean partners to tackle shared concerns, including growing transboundary threats such as terrorism, climate change and cyber security.

"We do not expect to resolve all the issues in the span of our chairmanship, but we hope to prompt a productive discussion and develop a consensus on an overall approach, as crystallised in our vision statement, in order to take Asean forward," he said.

The Prime Minister added that Singapore hopes to put forth tangible initiatives that will contribute to a more "resilient and innovative" Asean - in line with the themes of its chairmanship this year.

Besides strengthening Asean's collective resilience against transboundary threats, PM Lee also spoke of the need to "make use of technology and innovation as sources of growth and development to improve our peoples' lives".


(From left) Laos Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith; Malaysian Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Ramlan Ibrahim; Myanmar International Cooperation Minister Kyaw Tin; Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano; Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh; Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan; Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai; Brunei Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Emaleen Abdul Rahman Teo; Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn; Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Wiranto; Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi; and Asean Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi at the Asean Political-Security Community Council event. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Present at the dinner were Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Myanmar President Win Myint, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Malaysia was represented by its former deputy prime minister Musa Hitam. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will not attend the summit, which coincides with Nomination Day, ahead of Malaysia's general election.

The dinner was followed by a plenary session chaired by PM Lee.

TAKING ASEAN FORWARD

We do not expect to resolve all the issues in the span of our chairmanship, but we hope to prompt a productive discussion and develop a consensus on an overall approach, as crystallised in our vision statement, in order to take Asean forward.

PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG

At the summit, the leaders will discuss the regional grouping's top priorities and challenges. They are also expected to agree on details of the preliminary phase of the Asean smart cities network.

The network - Singapore's flagship initiative as Asean chair - aims to better connect digital infrastructure and services like e-payments across the region.

The leaders will also discuss regional and international developments. These will likely include maritime cooperation and security in the South China Sea, the security situation on the Korean peninsula, and the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

Earlier yesterday, foreign ministers from the Asean countries discussed security issues at the Asean Political-Security Community Council meeting, chaired by Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2018, with the headline 'S'pore seeks consensus on tackling Asean challenges'. Print Edition | Subscribe