In his three-day state visit to Singapore, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on April 22 made an opening speech at the 34th Singapore Lecture on “The Future of ASEAN”, pointing out the challenges the regional bloc will have to confront as well as the ways for it to overcome.

He said that in the decades to come, Southeast Asia will have to face more challenges and difficulties than now.

The changes in the economic and political balance towards Asia and the emergence of major and medium powers in the region are creating changes in the relations among the countries and impacting the strategic context of the region, he said.

The leader said it is a challenge for ASEAN to find its position in the new context, and expressed his concerns on a host of issues, including the ongoing disputes on territory and waters in the region.

It is important that those problems must be solved through dialogues and peace initiatives, he said, urging ASEAN to consolidate intra-bloc cooperation and coordination as this will help it and partners deal with the current regional challenges.-VNA