At the conclusion of the 31st Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Manila earlier this week, President Rodrigo Duterte turned over his chairmanship of the regional intergovernmental association to the next in line, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. This has been the mandated routine of ASEAN, with chairmanship rotating between the incumbent heads of government of the ten member nations every year. This also indicates that the new chairman’s nation will serve as the host country for the next ASEAN Summit, the 32nd since its inception.
As CNN Philippines tells it, President Duterte and Prime Minister Lee underwent the ceremonial handover of chairmanship at the closing phase of the 31st ASEAN Summit last Tuesday, November 14. “As the Philippines’ chairmanship of ASEAN draws to a close,” Duterte noted in his turnover speech, “I reiterate my commitment that my country, as ASEAN Chair, will remain steadfast in upholding the ideals and values we hold dear and in working for the realization of our shared aspirations.” Afterwards he presented the symbolic ASEAN Chairman’s gavel to Lee, who then congratulated the Philippines for their excellent chairmanship of the association and hosting of the recently-concluded summit.
On his own acceptance speech for Singapore’s new leadership role for the coming year, Prime Minister Lee thanked the host nation’s contributions to the three “pillars” of ASEAN that were forged in the summit. These included the finalized Code of Conduct for Parties in the South China Sea, a new ASEAN-Hong Kong trade agreement, and a consensus between the member countries on migrant workers’ rights and protection. For the part of Singapore’s future chairmanship duties, he promised both innovation and resilience and a renewed push for full economic integration, the current ASEAN Holy Grail of agreements.
Also included in the handover ceremony was PM Lee’s announcement of the new ASEAN secretary-general to serve at their Jakarta headquarters, Brunei Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade permanent secretary Lim Jock Hoi. He will succeed Vietnam’s Lee Luong Minh for a three-year term.
The ASEAN chairmanship handover followed other Philippine-hosted gatherings with the association and other world nations such as the commemorative meeting with representatives of the European Union, and the East Asia Summit, both of which took place earlier that day of November 14. Another important summit that Tuesday was the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit, between the ASEAN nations and other major Asia-Pacific countries with interests in the region.
Photo courtesy of Manila Bulletin News