In an unprecedented event that the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi rightly says will go down in history, leaders of 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) nations will be coming to India to participate as guests of honour at the Republic Day parade.
As Delhi gears up for the D Day to host no less than 10 important leaders of Southeast Asia, here’s a look at who they are,
- Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam: He is the 29th and current Sultan of Brunei. He is also the first and incumbent Prime Minister of the country. He succeeded to the throne as the Sultan of Brunei on 5 October 1967. The Sultan is the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance, Head of Islam (Caliph), Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Head of Customs, Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces and the Inspector General of the Royal Brunei Police Force. He is also the richest man on earth.
2. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia: He is one of the longest-serving PMs in the world. He became the PM in 1985 and has ruled Cambodia ever since. He became the PM at the age of 32 and was the youngest PM in the world at that time. Cambodia has very close ties with China. He will continue to be on a state visit to India after the Republic Day.
3. Joko Wiododo, President of Indonesia: This will be his second visit to India after another official visit in December 2016. Indonesia is a growing economy and is looking for a strong foothold in South Asia. He is also one of the founders of the Afro-Asia cooperation. He is seeking to expand ties with India.
4. Bounnhang Vorachith, President of Laos: He came to power in 2016 and this will be He is also the General Secretary of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, making him ranked first in the Politburo hierarchy.
5. Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia: Keen to expand ties with India, he has visited India earlier in 2017 and hosted the Indian PM in 2015 during the ASEAN summit.
6. Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar: A very well-known face in the world arena, Suu Kyi graduated from Delhi University’s Lady Shri Ram College and is a fellow of Shimla’s Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. She has faced opposition from the West due to the alleged ethenic cleansing of minorities from the Rakhine State. She is looking at India’s support in this issue.
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7. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, The Philippines: Came into power in 2016. He has shown keen interest in developing ties with India especially for developing the infrastructure sector.
8. Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore: He has been the PM of the small but, rich south Asian nation since 2004. He has always been keen on ties with India. On his visit to India last year, he said that Singapore was in favour of a large role for India in South East Asia. Singapore which is the current chair of Asean, has been one of the key pillars of India’s Look East and Act East policy. PMs Lee and Modi share a good chemistry and Singapore is a strong votary against China’s activities in South China Sea.
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9. Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister, Thailand: A retired Thai Army officer. Thailand has always kept cordial relations with India and is at present building the India-Myanmar-Thailand highway for further close connectivity. Though it is closer to China, it is still a valuable ally for India and a power balancer in the area.
10. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister, Vietnam: This the Vietnamese PM’s first visit to India. Vietnam has been a very strong ally of India and a key defence partner. Well-known for standing up to China, it wants a larger role for India to create a regional balance and to stand up against China.