Since my last newsletter, the international community has felt two great losses. On April 19, we lost H.E. Rodolfo C. Severino Jr., who was the 10th Secretary General of ASEAN and the second Filipino to hold the position. Ambassador Severino saw ASEAN through the new millennium and the peak of the Asian financial crisis (see our press release). On April 28, former U.S. senior Senator Richard Lugar passed. Senator Lugar’s work in nonproliferation leaves a legacy of a safer world, and in ASEAN, his diplomacy has been credited for saving the U.S.-Philippine relationship (see our press release). I extend my deepest condolences on the loss of these accomplished leaders.
For all our friends in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, I hope you had a very happy Khmer New Year, Pi Mai, Thingyan and Songkran!
Since my last newsletter, we have seen two milestone elections in ASEAN. On March 24, Thailand held its first elections in eight years. Just over three weeks later, Indonesia held the world’s largest presidential election in a single day on April 17, with over 81 percent of the electorate voting.