After the handover on Thursday (Nov 15), Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha thanked and congratulated his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong on “efficiently driving forward a resilient and innovative Asean community” and promised that Thailand will continue the good work.

Thailand last held the post in 2009 after taking over from Singapore.

Mr Prayut, a retired general, unveiled the theme of its chairmanship – Advancing Partnership for Sustainability – at the closing ceremony of the 33rd Asean Summit at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

He said: “(Asean’s) role is recognised internationally and it’s at the centre of the regional architecture. However, Asean is also facing a number of challenges such as trade and political competition, disruptive technologies, transnational crime, inequities and transformation in the region’s social structure.”

As the new Asean chair, Thailand’s key priorities include boosting connectivity in infrastructure, rules and regulations and people-to-people links so as to become a seamless Asean, he said. Another focus is on sustainable development in security and economic growth.

Thailand’s assumption of the Asean chairmanship, rotated annually among 10 member states in alphabetical order, will begin on Jan 1, 2019, and continue until the end of the year. Nearly 200 meetings are expected to be held over the period.

Asean groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Singapore took over from the Philippines as Asean chair in January this year. Vietnam will take over in 2020.

Source: Straits Times

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