37th ASEAN Roundtable: 55 Years On: Is ASEAN Still Relevant in the Changing Global Order?


In his seminal essay ‘ASEAN: Conception and Evolution’, former Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Thanat Khoman astutely observed that “…in time to come, not only will ASEAN have to face the difficult task of creating and maintaining harmony among its members who have different views, different interests, and are of different stages of development…but ASEAN will also have to cope with the extremely complicated problems of dealing with hard-nosed opponents and interlocutors among the developed countries.” Fifty-five years later, DPM Khoman’s words ring true as ASEAN struggles with questions of maintaining relevance, unity and cohesiveness amid the changing global order.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has altered the global rules-based international order and has shaken the very foundation and principles of ASEAN. Still reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the regional bloc is once again confronted with new geopolitical developments that have exacerbated existing tensions in the region including an intensifying China-US rivalry and compounding internal divisions within the grouping.

ASEAN is the epitome of multilateralism in a diverse region and has been praised for its institutionalisation of cooperation through a myriad of instruments, integration frameworks, and ASEAN-led mechanisms that have drawn major powers to support its centrality. But ASEAN must commence work on the ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision to strengthen ASEAN’s institutional capacity for regional integration and expand its community-building process. Institutional mechanisms for managing crises, regional affairs touching security, economic, and socio-cultural pillars, and adapting to the changing global order will become key priorities for the ASEAN community beyond 2025. However, is ASEAN still able to navigate through the complexities and be able to respond cohesively to the current and future challenges while maintaining its leadership role? How can ASEAN respond to the growing number of strategic powers in the Indo-Pacific that are apprehensive about the rise of China? Will ASEAN centrality and its mechanisms remain relevant and sufficient to meet the security objectives of its partners? Are ASEAN institutional bodies well equipped with the capacity to manage internal and external challenges?

Against this backdrop, the roundtable will examine the implications of key events on ASEAN, including the Russia – Ukraine war and the growing global bipolarity; the intensification of China-US rivalry in the Indo-Pacific; and the vision of ASEAN post-2025.

The annual ASEAN Roundtable is a platform for leading scholars and commentators to examine key issues and challenges affecting ASEAN as a region and as an institution. The event is supported by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

Download the programme here.


This hybrid event is open to the public and will be held at the Atrium Ballroom, Level 4, Raffles City Convention Centre, 80 Bras Basah Rd, Singapore 189560

Attending the Event In-person at Raffles City Convention Centre

(Registration Closed for physical attendance)

Attending the Event Virtually via Webinar

To join the event virtually, please register here to receive your unique login link for the webinar via the Zoom platform.

Timings in Singapore timeGuests to be seated by 8.30 am

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

8.00 am – Registration starts (for physical attendance only)

9.00 am – 9.30 am – Opening Remarks & Keynote Message

Opening Remarks

Keynote Message

Mr Choi Shing Kwok
Director and Chief Executive Officer, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
Mr Andreas Michael Klein
Director, Regional Programme Political Dialogue Asia, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Singapore

9.30 am – 10.45 am – SESSION I: Playing the Great Game

The session will examine how ASEAN may navigate great power rivalry in the region, particularly amidst the growing number of Indo-Pacific strategies in the region, including the US, Japan, India, Australia, the EU, the UK, and the ROK. Will the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific be sufficient in guiding ASEAN in the region and retaining its centrality in the regional security architecture? How should ASEAN respond to the plethora of new initiatives? From the G7’s Global Partnership for Infrastructure and Investment to the EU’s Global Gateway Initiative and China’s Global Security Initiative, what should ASEAN anchor itself to? How can ASEAN best articulate its priorities and maintain its centrality in the rapidly changing geopolitical order that is witnessing greater proliferation of minilateral groupings such as the Quad and AUKUS?



Prof Kishore Mahbubani
Distinguished Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Dr Evan Laksmana
Senior Research Fellow, Centre on Asia and Globalisation, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy
Dr William Choong
Senior Fellow, Regional Strategic and Political Studies, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
Ms Lee Sue-Ann
Senior Fellow and Coordinator, Regional Strategic and Political Studies, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute

11.05 am – 12.20 pm – SESSION II: Safeguarding ASEAN Economic Recovery Against Global Economic Uncertainties

ASEAN policymakers face difficult policy trade-offs to sustain economic recovery from the pandemic under global economic slowdown, rising inflation, and tightening global financial conditions. These downside risks are exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war. The IMF projected in its World Economic Outlook in April 2022 that the global economy will grow at 3.6 per cent in 2022 and 2023, 0.8 and 0.2 percentage points lower than projected in January 2022 prior to the Russia-Ukraine war. This session aims to explore ASEAN geo-economic outlook over the next few years in three aspects. First, it assesses the extent to which the Russia-Ukraine war affects ASEAN economies and discusses possible policy options to mitigate the downside risks of the war. Second, it evaluates the existing regional economic cooperation instruments in ASEAN and discusses whether such instruments are sufficient to safeguard ASEAN economic recovery. Finally, this session highlights the importance of digital trade as a key driver of regional economic growth, and explores possible policy measures to address digital trade’s impediments. Mitigating the negative impacts of the war, deepening regional economic integration, and promoting digital trade should strengthen economic recovery in the region.



Ms Syetarn Hansakul
Analyst (Asia), Economic Intelligence Unit
Dr Jayant Menon
Senior Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute
Ms Alpana Roy
Singapore’s Senior Economic Official to ASEAN and Director (ASEAN), Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore
Dr Tham Siew Yean
Visiting Senior Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute

1.45 pm – 4.15 pm – SESSION III: ASEAN Community Beyond 2025

This session will discuss the maritime versus continental Southeast Asia divide which threatens to further deepen the internal fault lines within ASEAN, the place of Timor-Leste and critical issues that hamper regional integration. With high expectations of Timor Leste’s eventual admission to the ASEAN family, where does it fit in the vision of an ASEAN Community? Could Timor-Leste’s accession to ASEAN help to re-orient its multilateral spirit? As ASEAN commences the work on ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision, it is timelier than ever to reflect and look beyond the horizon of 2025. What are the institutional realities and limitations of ASEAN today? How can ASEAN uphold its multilateral spirit to hedge the current global crisis? What are further opportunities to be leveraged to advance regional integration?

1.45 pm – 2.45 pm – First Panel: ASEAN Community Building and Challenges



Ambassador Ong Keng Yong
Executive Deputy Chairman, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Prof Dewi Fortuna Anwar
Co-Founder of Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI)
Ms Joanne Lin
Co-coordinator, ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute

3.00 pm – 4.00 pm – Second Panel: ASEAN Post-2025



Ambassador Pham Quang Vinh
Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Vietnam
Dr Marty Natalegawa
Former Foreign Minister of Indonesia
Dr Ian Storey
Senior Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute

4.00 pm – 4.15 pm – Wrap-Up

Concluding Remarks

Ms Sharon Seah Senior Fellow, Coordinator, ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute