Asean’s leaders will gather in Singapore from today (Wednesday) until Saturday for the 32nd Asean summit with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong chairing.
Singapore says it is keen to develop a network of smart Asean cities and boost cyber security.
On the agenda will also be maritime cooperation and security in the South China Sea, over North Korea and the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has broken Asean convention of not mentioning other member’s domestic issues in the past by raising the Rohingya crisis, will not attend the summit as it coincides with Nomination Day on April 28 ahead of the May 9 general election.
Singapore’s trade minister Lim Hng Kiang will also chair a meeting of Asean’s economic ministers.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has arrived in the Lion City early for bilateral talks on economic cooperation in his first to Singapore since he was selected for the role in 2016.
They are due to sign numerous deals on issues like fintech (financial technology), banking supervision, renewable energy and trade standards.
Singapore was Vietnam’s third-largest foreign investor in 2017, with US$43.2 billion worth of investment in more than 1,800 projects, including seven Vietnamese-Singaporean industrial parks.
Vietnam was Singapore’s 12th-largest trading partner in 2017 with bilateral trade reaching US$21.6 billion last year, 8.6 per cent more than in 2016.
In domestic Singaporean politics, Lee, the eldest son of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, has reshuffled his cabinet, naming one of his potential successors, Chan Chun Sing, as trade minister, and giving additional duties to two other ministers tipped as contenders.
Lee has said he is ready to stand down in the next couple of years, but no obvious successor has emerged from a cabal of 16 ministers with the responsibility of picking a leader.
Chan, finance minister Heng Swee Keat and education secretary Ong Ye Kung are all being mentioned as possible successors.
The People’s Action Party has ruled since its independence in 1965 and there have been only three premiers.
Singapore’s next general election is due to be held by early 2021.
“The leadership transition taking place in the next few years is well underway,” Lee posted on Facebook.
“The younger ministers will progressively take over more responsibility for governing Singapore.”
Singapore is setting a tech example for the rest of Asean to follow. Picture credit: Flickr