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Except for Myanmar, Southeast Asia showed solid economic performance in 2007. Domestic political uncertainty did not necessarily affect growth rates: for instance, the Philippines did particularly well, though Thailand slowed down a bit. However, the year ended on a note of caution in view of signs of a slowing down of the U.S. economy in the final quarter amidst a severe downturn in the U.S. housing market and fallout from the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

In the arena of politics, there was no major change. The most notable event of 2007 was the unrest in Myanmar though it was contained by the regime. There was also continuing political uncertainty in Thailand and some turbulence in the Philippines when a group of rebel soldiers mounted an amateur coup attempt which was easily put down. Timor-Leste was recovering from the previous year's violence and held presidential and parliamentary elections. Indonesia, the biggest country of Southeast Asia, was relatively stable.

The more significant events of the year related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The year 2007 marked the fortieth anniversary of the founding of ASEAN. Also, at its summit meeting in Singapore, the grouping adopted the landmark ASEAN Charter which is intended to give a legal identity to ASEAN, encapsulate its fundamental principles and strengthen its enforcement of ASEAN agreements.

Southeast Asian Affairs 2008, like the previous 34 editions of this flagship publication of ISEAS, provides an informed and readable analysis of developments in the region. I am confident it will continue to be of interest to scholars, policy-makers, diplomats and the media. I wish to thank both the editors and the contributors for the work they have put in to bring out this volume.

K. Kesavapany
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
April 2008

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