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Taking Asean forward

The regional bloc will have to address present needs and drive future development for the next 50 years and beyond.



THE eyes and ears of the world are on Singapore once again this week, with a host of world leaders in town for the 33rd Asean Summit and Related Summits.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is hosting and chairing the summit, as Singapore marks the final milestone of its year-long chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) before handing the baton over to Thailand, the 2019 chair.

Many issues are on the table, not least of which is regional economic integration - Asean, after all, is projected to become the world's fourth-largest economy by 2030.

The long-running negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership - a major free trade agreement between Asean and six other countries - could reach a conclusion here.

Asean Leaders are expected to adopt the Asean Smart Cities Framework and take stock of the grouping's achievements this year in strengthening the bloc's resilience and innovation. The leaders will also discuss how to take Asean forward at a time of geopolitical and economic change.

South-east Asia is facing numerous global headwinds, with trade tensions having a significant impact on every economy big or small. Terrorism, cyber security and digital disruption continue to pose their fair share of challenges to the status quo.

This week isn't just about the 10 member states of Asean, however. The grouping's regional and strategic partners are also in attendance, and the all-important Asean Plus Three Summit and the East Asia Summit will take place.

In the pages of this special 24-page supplement, there are features and analyses related to the three key pillars of the Asean Community - namely Political-Security, Economic, and Socio-Cultural.

A common theme that stretches across these articles is how Asean - a bloc that celebrated its golden jubilee last year - needs to be resilient and innovative to address present needs, as well as drive future development for the next 50 years and beyond.

Editor: Lee U-Wen
Writers: Jacquelyn Cheok, Janice Heng, Lee U-Wen, Annabeth Leow, Vivien Shiao, Natalie Choy,
Cover design: Simon Ang, Lee Yu Hui
Artists: Ho Yan Hao, Lee Yu Hui
Sub-editors: Agnes Wee, Kelvin Lee

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