Speaking at the 16th World Economic Forum on East Asia in Singapore over the weekend (press release here), Prime Minister Lee Hsien-Loong praised the economic progress made in India, China, Japan, and Korea, but had a more tempered assessment on ASEAN:
"Within Southeast Asia, the picture is mixed. Some countries like Vietnam are pressing ahead with reforms, and are in the early stages of take-off. Others have not restructured their economies and reformed their institutions to the extent that investors had hoped to see. Investment flows have reflected these differences. Nevertheless, Southeast Asia as a whole has regained its balance, and with high energy prices benefiting the oil-exporting economies, the region is moving forward again.
The ASEAN countries realise that they need to strengthen their cooperation with one another in order to stay on the radar screen of international companies and investors. This is why ASEAN is drafting a Charter to strengthen its institutions and define its long-term goals. We are also striving for an ASEAN Community by 2015, to create a single economic entity and realise the full potential of our combined market of 550 million people."