As the face of the 10-member organisation, Myanmar will have to defend Asean’s interests as well as its own, he said.
The country will have to reassure external partners that, under its chairmanship, Asean would make progress towards a more united and connected Asean community.
“The world will be watching. Given the stakes, I am confident that Myanmar will work hard to make its Asean chairmanship a success,” said Mr Shanmugam.
Myanmar voluntarily skipped its turn as chairman in 2005 and Asean foreign ministers agreed at the time to allow it to assume the position when it was ready.
Mr Shanmugam said Singapore’s bilateral relations with Myanmar remain good, and that Singapore will continue to support the country through capacity building, economic and human-resource development, and public administration.
In response to a question as to whether Myanmar’s chairmanship would be reviewed should it regress to its previous state of affairs, Mr Shanmugam said significant developments in Myanmar should be encouraged.
If “the course changes”, further consideration will be needed, but “we will cross that bridge when we come to it”, he said.