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Getting To Know The 31st ASEAN Summit VIPs

A primer on President Duterte's co-leaders
by Rampador Alindog | Nov 12, 2017
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All is set for the 31st ASEAN Summit to be held here in the country from November 10 to 14.

Bearing the theme "Partnering for Change, Engaging the World," it will see the leaders of the 10-member regional bloc discuss pressing regional and international issues.

Dialogue partners, including US President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese Premiere Li Keqiang, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will also be attending.

Note, it is the second international summit to be hosted by the Philippines under the current administration.

To get your noggins buzzin', here's a primer on President Rodrigo Duterte's co-ASEAN leaders:

Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah

The 71-year old has probably the longest name among leaders attending the summit: Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa'adul Khairi Waddien Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. The eldest son of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III and Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Damit, he succeeded to the throne as the Sultan of Brunei, following the abdication of his father on October 5, 1967. He is ranked among wealthiest in the world, with Forbes estimating his net worth at US$20 billion in 2008.

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Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen

Hun Sen has served his country since 1985, making him the world's longest-serving PM. He is also considered one of the longest-serving leaders in the world. A soldier, Hun Sen came to power with the Khmer Rouge and served as a Battalion Commander in the Eastern Region of Democratic Kampuchea. He was only 32 years old when he became prime minister, making him at that time the world's youngest head of government.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo

Like Duterte, Joko Widodo was a former city mayor (Surakarta). Unlike Digong, however, he assumed the presidency of his country in 2014, following a hotly contested election that saw him winning 53.1% of the votes, the closest in Indonesian history. As president, Jokowi's domestic policy has focused on infrastructure development across the archipelago in accordance to a "Global Maritime Axis" policy. On foreign affairs, his administration has placed an emphasis on "protecting Indonesia's sovereignty," going on to sink illegal foreign fishing vessels and prescribing capital punishment for drug smugglers.

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Laos President Bounnhang Vorachith

Bounnhang Vorachith served as his country's Deputy Prime Minister from 1996 to 2001, then as Prime Minister from 2001 to 2006, before becoming Vice President of Laos from 2006 to 2016. He was elected to succeed Choummaly Sayasone as General Secretary at the 10th Congress of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party on January 22, 2016, effectively making him the leader of Laos.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak

Najib Razak is the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia. Coming from a family of politicians, he was elected to the Parliament of Malaysia in 1976, at only 23 years old. He served in various Cabinet posts throughout the '80s and '90s, before being sworn as Prime Minister on April 3, 2009. Note that his father, Abdul Razak Hussein, was Malaysia's second Prime Minister, while his uncle, Hussein Onn, was Malaysia's third Prime Minister.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Lee is the oldest son of Singapore's first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew. Based on photos, he is the tallest of the ASEAN delegates. The US educated Lee earned a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics degree, as with a diploma in Computer Science at the University of Cambridge in 1974. He is supposed to have written a Sudoku solver in C++ in his spare time.

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Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha

Prayut Chan-o-cha is a retired Royal Thai Army officer. In 2014, he staged a military coup against the government, then assumed control of the country as leader of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), a military junta. A songwriter, Prayut has written several tunes that he had ordered played on state radio and television stations.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc

Nguyen Xuan Phuc is the 7th Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. He was accepted to join the Communist Party of Vietnam on May 12 1982, officially becoming a member of the party a year later. From 1980, Phúc was an employee, then deputy, finally rising to Chief of Office of the Quang Nam–Da Nang People's Committee in 1993.

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi

Suu Kyi, who is also her country's foreign minister, will attend the summit on behalf of President, U Htin Kyaw. She is the first woman in her country to serve as Minister for Foreign Affairs, for the President's Office, for Electric Power and Energy, and for Education. The youngest daughter of Aung San, considered the Father of the Nation of modern-day Myanmar, Suu Kyi was born in Rangoon, British Burma. After graduating from the University of Delhi in 1964, and the University of Oxford in 1968, she worked at the United Nations for three years.

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She rose to political prominence during the 1988 Uprisings, and became the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), which she had formed with the help of several retired army officials critical of the then-ruling military junta. Suu Kyi was kept under house arrest following the 1990 elections. She remained under house arrest from 1989 to 2010, becoming one of the world's most prominent political prisoners. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.


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