(Executive Chairman, The Straits Trading Company)
What is ASEAN to you?
ASEAN is a coalition of countries within South East Asia, each with separate sovereignty and political philosophy but working and coming together because of their close geographic links and common interests.
Is it easy enough to do business across ASEAN? Do ASEAN governments or institutions limit business opportunities across the region?
I would not say that ASEAN governments of institutions limit business opportunities but for each business person entering a new country, he has to learn that country’s norms, practices and understand its systems. Many ASEAN institutions do help promote collaborations but more can be done.
What is the single biggest thing that will make it easier to do business across borders in ASEAN?
To have clear rules and if possible, a “one stop shop” for each country to handle and assist business people wishing to operate in that country.
How should the “ASEAN brand” be defined?
If ASEAN is a coalition, then I don’t think we have an ASEAN brand in the sense that a brand often represents one entity. Rather, ASEAN as a “brand” should bring to mind a coalition of countries with a common objective in some respects and different objectives in other contexts.
What is your image of ASEAN in 2030?
ASEAN 2030 should, if the coalition be successful, end up with stronger ties, at times be able to speak with a single voice on the international stage and should have suitable and effective platforms for dialogue between countries and organisations that operate in the member countries.