Your Royal Highnesses,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over the past two days, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers have engaged in close review and consultation over many important issues, both in plenary and at the Retreat. We have drawn inspiration from Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong’s Opening Address, and have pondered over new ideas and concepts that will have substantial effects on ASEAN for many years to come. We have discussed our common policies and reiterated our basic principles that have guided ASEAN well over the past thirty-two years. It is clear that the ASEAN agenda will continue to be full for many years to come.
For my part, I am fully conscious of the serious responsibilities that lie before me as Chairman of the next ASEAN Standing Committee. Even more challenging is the timing of my chairmanship, which sits astride the new millennium. Towards this end, as ASEAN moves forward into the next century, Thailand will continue to play an important role in bridging more effectively the gap between the two centuries — as well as the diversities among the membership, stages of development, varying values and ideas, and between ASEAN and the outside world — in our mutual attempt to bring about closer integration for our mutual interests.
Let me conclude by congratulating Singapore for the leadership that it has shown over the past year as Chairman of the 32nd ASEAN Standing Committee. I especially would like to commend my senior colleague and long-time friend Professor Jayakumar for the pragmatic and prudent way in which he has guided our activities during the past year and his stewardship of this meeting to a successful conclusion. I would also like to applaud his conscientious and industrious staff for all the hard work they have done over the course of the year, preparing for this meeting.
Finally, on behalf of all the ASEAN delegations, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Government and people of Singapore, for the excellent arrangements and generous hospitality accorded to us all during our stay here. I look forward to the opportunity of welcoming you all next year to Bangkok, where ASEAN was conceived thirty-two years ago, for the 33rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and the first such Meeting of the new Millennium.