First and foremost, I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to our Thai members and the people of Thailand on the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX. He had a very special relationship with the United States, being born in Massachusetts and meeting with American Presidents from Eisenhower to Obama. We recognize the important work he did throughout his life to improve the lives of his people and offer our thoughts and prayers to all who mourn his passing.
Greetings from Washington, D.C.!
The Council’s lively summer has continued, with business missions to Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines, the ASEAN Economic Ministers meetings, the American Innovation Roadshow to Myanmar and a special program here in Washington for Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong as part of the Prime Minister’s official State Visit. Additionally, we said goodbye this week to longtime friend of the Council Ambassador U Kyaw Myo Htut, who is moving on after three years as Myanmar Ambassador to the United States.
Greetings from Cambodia!
I am sad to report that the Council lost a great friend and supporter when Derek Williams passed away suddenly in Singapore this past Saturday. Derek was a longstanding leader for Oracle in Asia. As Oracle’s Executive Vice President, Derek lead Oracle in Asia from 1991 to 2009 building the Oracle business from a small base to 75 offices in 29 countries. More recently he focused on Oracle’s business in Japan and served as Oracle’s Ambassador for business, government and policy throughout Asia. He worked closely with the Council and often represented Oracle at major Council events and at the APEC CEO Summit. We send our condolences to the entire Oracle family. Derek will be missed.
I leave on Sunday for Southeast Asia where I will visit members in Jakarta, Singapore and Hong Kong. In Jakarta, I am scheduled to see ASEAN Secretary General Le Loong Minh, Indonesia Trade Minister Tom Lembong as well as our two U.S. Ambassadors stationed in Jakarta. I will also be speaking at the Joint Service Academies Summit on June 24th. If you would like more information on the Summit or to attend please click here.
ASEAN’s year of political transition continues as planned on May 9 with the Philippines joining Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam as countries welcoming new government leaders.
We offer our congratulations to the people of Philippines for the highest voter turnout in recent memory with over 80 percent of the registered voters casting ballets. We also offer our congratulations to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte who won a five candidate race with over 38 percent of the votes, far ahead of his nearest rival. The President-elect will be sworn into office on June 30. We look forward to working with him and his cabinet and to learning more about his administration’s priorities. Our Philippine Business Mission is slated to visit Manila and meet with the new government from August 10-12.
Spring has arrived full force in Washington, DC, and with it has come a new round of exciting events for the Council and the region.
On March 30, we hosted dinner for Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.) of Thailand at the Four Seasons Hotel here in Washington, DC. During his remarks, Prime Minister Prayut reasserted Thailand’s intent to sign onto the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement when it opens to new participants.
That same day in Myanmar, President U Htin Kyaw and his cabinet took office. Soon after, both houses of Parliament approved a measure to create a new “State Counselor” position for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to coordinate the activities of both the executive branch and Parliament. As the new government gets to work, the Council was honored to host the new Ministers of Health and Natural Resources and Environment at our offices on April 13.
A sincere thank you again to all those who helped make our ASEAN Economic Community conference Asia’s Best Kept Secret become a huge success in San Francisco last month. The conference followed immediately upon the US-ASEAN Leaders Summit in San Francisco, and brought together numerous business, government, media and academic leaders. We were honored to have a keynote by President Jokowi of Indonesia, as well as the participation of USTR Michael Froman and the ASEAN Economic Ministers. We also presented the Council’s Fourth Pillar Award to Tony Fernandes, the Group CEO and Founder of Air Asia.
March is another exciting month in ASEAN. Perhaps the biggest news this month is the historic political transition in Myanmar, as U Htin Kyaw will become the first democratically elected head of state in more than 50 years and Aung San Suu Kyi will be the Minister of Education, Energy & Natural Resources, Foreign Affairs, and Minister of the President’s Office.
February was an incredible month for both the US-ASEAN relationship and the Council.
As I hoped you followed, President Obama hosted the first stand alone, U.S.-ASEAN Summit at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California. Leaders from all ten countries gathered on February 15 and 16 to further strengthen the relationship that has grown significantly over the last seven years.
The leaders agreed to 17 key principles that will guide future US-ASEAN cooperation moving forward. Read the joint statement of the U.S.-ASEAN Special Leaders’ Summit.
2016 is off to a swift start, with major political transitions in Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, and fast approaching, momentous visit of the ASEAN Leaders to the U.S. for the US-ASEAN Leaders Summit in Sunnylands California, February 15 and 16.
As you have hopefully heard, the Council is then hosting a major conference on the AEC in San Francisco on February 17. The conference, Asia’s Best Kept Secret: the ASEAN Economic Community, will feature some of the best minds that focus on ASEAN from business and government, and will be attended by a wide range of leading business, academic, government, and media figures. Check out the agenda here.
We hope to have confirmation soon on the leaders who will be joining us for the conference, but we have confirmed participation from:
We’ve had another successful, busy year. In fact, the Council managed almost 300 events across our eight offices this year helping our members move issues forward, be better informed and build relationships.
It was a year of change. Myanmar’s historic opening to the world took an incredible step forward with a sweeping NLD victory in November elections which will bring the opposition party into power. The Lee Kuan Yew era ended as Singapore’s esteemed founding Prime Minister passed away. Singapore held historic elections, the first after Lee Kuan Yew’s passing, where his party, the People’s Action Party (PAP), continued in power with an even stronger mandate.