“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” American baseball icon Yogi Berra is often quoted as saying. It is nonetheless interesting to ponder what major events to watch out for in Southeast Asia in 2013. Below is a list of ten things to keep an eye out for in the region in the new year.
1. How will ASEAN’s new chief fare? Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Le Luong Minh took over as ASEAN Secretary-General on January 1, 2013. He will have big shoes to fill as his predecessor, Surin Pitsuwan, was a dynamic chief during his five-year term – and some argue its most effective one yet. If Surin’s task was to make ASEAN a household name, Minh’s task, as I’ve argued earlier, will be to preserve its centrality in the wake of daunting internal and external challenges. His extensive diplomatic experience will come in handy in achieving the main goals he has outlined, including progress on economic integration and negotiations on the South China Sea. It will also be interesting to see if Minh is able to make progress on some of the reforms Surin has been pushing, such as strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat.
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