[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

[ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting]
The ASEAN FMs met on 15 December at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta to mark the coming into force of the ASEAN Charter. The event was supposed to have been celebrated at the ASEAN Summit in Chiang Mai which was unfortunately cancelled because of the political situation in Thailand. In the middle of our meeting in Jakarta, news broke that Abhisit had been elected by the Thai Parliament to be the new PM. There was a wave of relief around the table not because we supported one side or the other but because we needed political stability in Thailand to advance the ASEAN agenda. Thailand is in the Chair till the end of next year. Personally, having known Abhisit for many years, I was happy to see him become PM but he has a tough job ahead of him. Anyway, we did settle on 24-26 Feb next year for the ASEAN Summit. With the global financial crisis getting worse, it is important for Leaders to meet early.

With the ASEAN Charter in force, every ASEAN country will now appoint a permanent representative of ambassadorial rank to the ASEAN Secretariat. Two additional Deputy Sec Generals will also be recruited. The FMs agreed that the Secretariat's budget will have to be increased. A new ASEAN anthem has also been selected. It has a nice tune. I hope that all school children in all ten ASEAN countries will learn it so that we share a song of hope in common.

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