Trending: The ASEAN Issue

In this issue: Singapore chaired the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2018 with the theme of “Resilient and Innovative”. Here are the trends to watch within ASEAN.
Learn what ASEAN member states have been working on, as well as the similarities and differences of ASEAN with other regional groupings like the EU.

A Trend to Watch

More tourism brings challenges

As a tourist destination, Southeast Asia is known for its cultures, diverse heritage, natural environments and scrumptious food. Since 1992, the region has been promoting itself as single tourism destination by opening up air travel and improving connections by road and rail. A rising consumer class and the region’s proximity to China and India have also led to a surge in tourism. In 2017, Singapore proposed to work with other ASEAN member states to promote Southeast Asia as a cruise destination, and a Joint Declaration on Cruise Tourism was adopted in January 2018. However, the demand for tourism has also led to challenges such as environmental degradation and the need for more efficient infrastructure. Several popular tourist spots, such as Thailand’s famous Maya Bay and Boracay island in the Philippines, had to be closed temporarily for pollution to be cleaned up and to allow coral ecosystems to recover.

Global Outlook

Developments across ASEAN

Trending: ASEAN Issue - Developments in Singapore

As chair of ASEAN in 2018, Singapore has put a focus on cyber security, countering terrorism, combating climate change, and building a network of ASEAN smart cities among 26 pilot cities across the region. Among many major initiatives, Singapore also launched a Framework to Minimise the Harmful Effects of Fake News with broad strategies that ASEAN member states can use to reduce misinformation.

Trending: ASEAN Issue - Developments in Thailand

Thailand will serve as the ASEAN chair for 2019, and will also be having its general elections in the same year. According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Thailand will be holding the first ASEAN summit for 2019 in June, to allow the elections to take place before the summit. The theme for 2019 will be “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”.

Trending: ASEAN Issue - Developments in Philippines

The Philippines took on the chairmanship in 2017, also ASEAN’s 50th anniversary. One major achievement was the adoption of the Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers during the 31st ASEAN Summit in November 2017. That follows the 2007 Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, also led by the Philippines during its chairmanship 10 years prior.

Trending: ASEAN Issue - Developments in Indonesia

Singapore and Indonesia are part of the “Our Eyes” initiative, launched in January 2018 to counter regional terrorism. The platform facilitates the sharing of intelligence among six ASEAN countries, including Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, about terrorists and their networks. Singapore is working closely with Indonesia to gain more support for building the intelligence-sharing network.

Trending: ASEAN Issue - Developments in Malaysia

At the 25th ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting on November 28, 2018, Malaysia announced that it aims to promote more green jobs and skills in the region over the next two years. ASEAN has also set a target of obtaining 23% of its primary energy from renewable sources by 2025. Malaysia is currently the world’s third-largest producer of photovoltaic cells for solar energy.


ASEAN vs the EU (European Union)

Both organisations were founded to promote peace, human rights and economic integration, but there are several important differences.

Trending: ASEAN Issue - Differences between ASEAN and the EU (European Union)

Learn the Lingo

Trending: ASEAN Issue - Learn the Lingo


Short for ASEAN Member States. There are 10 member states: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


ASEAN Smart Cities Network, a collaborative platform where 26 ASEAN pilot cities can learn from one another to adopt smart technology, find solutions and work wtih industry and global partners to make urban development sustainable and cities liveable. Initiated by Singapore as ASEAN chair in 2018.

    Dec 28, 2018
    Brenda Lim
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