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Foreword Southeast Asia was on the cusp of major changes in 2005. At year's end in December 2005, the long-awaited East Asian Summit was held in Kuala Lumpur. It marked the beginning of region-building that encompasses East, Southeast, and South Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand, a process that heralds looking beyond narrow sub-regionalism. At the same time, ASEAN launched the process of preparing an ASEAN Charter, with the guidance of an Eminent Persons Group. Both events signalled the strengthening of ASEAN and the wider region. Furthermore, the democratic processes were strengthened by the successful organization of regional elections in Indonesia following the legislative and presidential elections in the previous year. In Thailand and the Philippines, the political processes delivered different results: Prime Minister Thaksin came under pressure which led to his resignation in April 2006, whilst President Arroyo retained her post despite street demonstrations. Vietnam continued to achieve rapid economic growth. Bird flu appeared, but was contained, at least for the time being. Most ASEAN economies benefited from the high growth sustained by India and China. The good economic performance plus the central role of ASEAN in the driver's seat of the East Asian Summit has restored some of the shine back to ASEAN. Southeast Asian Affairs 2006, like the previous 32 editions of this flagship publication of ISEAS, provides an informed and readable analysis of developments in the region. K. Kesavapany Director Institute of Southeast Asian Studies April 2006 ...


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