Ladies and Gentlemen
I am happy to extend a very warm welcome to you all. This is ASEAN’s 32nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting. It is the first in which all ten Southeast Asian countries are represented as full members of ASEAN. I would like to extend a very special welcome to Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong of Cambodia.
This has been a challenging and, at times, difficult year for ASEAN. It is a matter of great personal satisfaction to me that, notwithstanding all the gloomy predictions that have been bandied about, and the real problems, ASEAN has held together and maintained our direction. We have remained true to our fundamental principles. And, most importantly, we have not backtracked from our goal of building an open and market-oriented region. Of course, there are still many uncertainties that have to be faced. It is my hope that this 32nd AMM will initiate a process of honest reappraisal so that we can continue to move forward in the ASEAN way.
I would like to thank my ASEAN colleagues for their consistent support and wise counsel throughout Singapore’s chairmanship the past year. Without their full cooperation and goodwill my task would have been much more difficult.
Without further ado, I now have the pleasure of inviting the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Goh Chok Tong, to deliver his Opening Address.