PM Lee calls on ASEAN to work towards joint power grid after Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore project
The success of the project, in which Singapore imports renewable energy from Laos through Thailand and Malaysia, shows multilateral power trading in the region is "feasible", says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
LABUAN BAJO, Indonesia: Following the success of the Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore power integration project, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday (May 10) called on ASEAN to continue working towards a joint power grid.
A regional power grid will strengthen energy security and resilience in member states, and advance regional decarbonisation, Mr Lee said.
The Lao PDR-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore project shows that "multilateral power trading in the region is feasible", said Mr Lee during his intervention at the plenary session of the 42nd ASEAN summit in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia.
Singapore started importing renewable energy from Laos through Thailand and Malaysia on Jun 23, 2022.
Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong in November provided an update on the project in a written parliamentary reply. He said more than 170,000 megawatt hours of electricity had been imported to Singapore from Lao PDR from Jun 23 to Oct 31 that year, and this flow of electricity was "stable".
DEEPEN COLLABORATION IN DIGITAL ECONOMY
At the plenary, whose topic was ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth, Mr Lee also said that member states can reap economic gains by improving people's digital connectivity and literacy.
Singapore strongly supports Indonesia's efforts to develop the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement, and welcomes the proposed Leaders' Statement on the agreement that is expected to be issued later this year, he added.
"Economic integration has long been ASEAN's priority and must always remain so. It underpins ASEAN centrality," said Mr Lee.
"We need to update and upgrade our core agreements, such as the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement, to keep them relevant to evolving business practices."
Beyond economic issues, ASEAN should also step up cooperation on transnational issues, Mr Lee said. This includes protecting its people from "increasingly sophisticated" cross-border threats.
Adding that cybersecurity cooperation should also be enhanced, Mr Lee noted the "good progress" made on the ASEAN Regional Computer Emergency Response Team proposal.
This proposal will strengthen regional cyber cooperation and incident response capabilities against sophisticated cyber threats, he said.
NEED FOR STRONG POLITICAL SUPPORT
Deepening cooperation in these areas, however, requires strong political support, Mr Lee said.
Given the troubled global outlook, ASEAN must "stay cohesive and united at the highest levels", including by embracing a shared vision for the region's future.
Mr Lee welcomed the two Leaders' Statements, which affirm a shared commitment to the Proposed Core Elements of the Post-2025 Vision submitted last year.
This vision called on ASEAN to remain "open, transparent, inclusive and rules-based, with deeper external engagements", as well as to pursue new areas of cooperation including in sustainability, cybersecurity and digital and green economies.
The vision also seeks to strengthen ASEAN as an institution, and Singapore welcomes the efforts to review the association's capacity and institutional effectiveness, Mr Lee said.
He called for the streamlining and optimisation of ASEAN processes, as well as strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat and the role of the ASEAN Secretary General to enable them to more effectively implement key priorities.
TIMOR-LESTE ASEAN MEMBERSHIP
Mr Lee on Wednesday also said ASEAN has adopted a roadmap for Timor-Leste's membership, which sets out the obligations and commitments that the country needs to fulfil, he said.
"It is robust and comprehensive. It has been extensively discussed and carefully designed, and has our full support."
Mr Lee assured Timor-Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak that Singapore will continue to support thee country to build its capacity as it prepares to join ASEAN. This involves working with Timor-Leste to complete all the requirements in the roadmap, including the negotiations to accede to ASEAN's extensive set of treaties and agreements.
Singapore has launched a special technical assistance Singapore-Timor-Leste ASEAN Readiness Support (STARS) package to train Timor-Leste officials in ASEAN knowledge and skills training, as well as education capacity building.
Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak was present at the 42nd ASEAN summit as an observer, after ASEAN agreed in principle to admit the country as its 11th member at the previous summit in Cambodia.
This granted Timor-Leste observer status at future ASEAN meetings, including at summit plenaries.
Timor-Leste will join ASEAN as a member state once it fulfils the requirements in the roadmap.