10 ASEAN leaders are Republic Day chief guests this year: Here are brief profiles of the 10 heads of State
In an unprecedented event, all the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders will be the chief guests at the Republic Day parade this year
In an unprecedented event, there will be 10 chief guests at the Republic Day parade this year, as leaders of 10 ASEAN countries — Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos and Brunei — will be in attendance.
All 10 will share the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday.
The ASEAN leaders participating in the Republic Day parade are President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam, Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, General Prayuth Chan-o-cha of Thailand, Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, the Sultan of Brunei Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos and Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of Cambodia.
Ties between India and ASEAN nations have been on an upswing, particularly in the areas of trade and investment.
The historic gathering comes just two months after Modi visited Manila to attend the ASEAN summit, which coincided with the 25th anniversary of India becoming a sectoral partner of ASEAN.
Here is a brief biography of each ASEAN leader:
President Joko Widodo of Indonesia
Widodo, a former entrepreneur and governor of Jakarta, was elected as Indonesia's president in July 2014, according to a BBC report. Widodo, who came to power on the promise of stamping out corruption and nepotism, has grown in popularity with measures such as relocating slum-dwellers and boosting small businesses, added the report.
Widodo has been described as a typical "village face". He is the first Indonesian president who has not emerged from the country's political elite or who has not been an army general, said a report on The New York Times.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore
Lee, a former brigadier-general, has been prime minister of Singapore since 2004. He is the son of ex-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who led the country to independence in 1965, stepped down in 1990, and was succeeded by former shipping executive Goh Chok Tong. The junior Lee, a cancer survivor, succeeded Goh in 2004.
Lee joined the Singapore armed forces in 1971 and served as an officer from 1974 to 1984. He became the youngest brigadier-general in Singaporean history, according Xinhua news agency.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam
Nguyen, who is the 7th Prime Minister of Vietnam, was a member of the 10th, 11th and 12th Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee (CPVCC), according to Xinhua.
Nguyen has previously held key posts in local politics and on legislative committees. He was once head of planning and investment in Danang, Vietnam's third-biggest city, said ABC.
Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia
Najib is currently at the centre of a major corruption scandal amid allegations that billions of dollars were looted from a State investment fund, 1MDB, that he founded. Both Najib and the fund deny any wrongdoing. Najib is Malaysia's most experienced serving politician with a three-decade career in government. He also holds record as the youngest candidate in a Malaysian election, from 1976 when he was aged 22.
According to Al Jazeera, during his second stint as defence minister of Malaysia, Najib instituted compulsory military service in December 2003. He was of the opinion that that the move would encourage interaction and friendship between youth of different ethnic groups.
General Prayuth Chan-o-cha of Thailand
Prayut, a former army chief, according to Strait Times, seized power in a coup in May 2014 following months of street protests that led to the ousting of then prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
Recently, he was in news for producing a life-sized cardboard cutout of himself and telling the reporters to quiz it instead of him. It is not the first time Prayuth dumbfounded the media. In the past, he has fondled the ear of a sound technician during an impromptu news conference, flung a banana peel at cameramen, and threatened, with gruff humour, to execute any journalist who criticised his government.
Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar
Suu Kyi, the winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, enjoys wide support in Myanmar after spending most part of two decades under house arrest on orders of country's military junta.
She led the National League for Democracy (NLD) to a majority win in Myanmar's first openly contested election in 25 years in November 2015.
Suu Kyi has faced heavy international criticism for not taking a higher profile in responding to what UN officials have called “ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims by the army.
President Rodrigo Duterte of Philippines
Duterte, 72, won elections last year after campaigning on a law-and-order platform, and the police has since reported killing more than 3,900 "drug personalities". Duterte's narcotics crackdown has killed thousands of people and drawn international criticism. Another 2,290 people have died in unsolved "drug-related" killings, government data show, leading rights groups to warn of a crime against humanity.
Duterte, according to Al Jazeera, is the oldest person to ever assume the presidency in Philippines. He is an advocate of federalism, which he has said could prove the solution to ending a Muslim rebellion in the country.
Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei
Hassanal succeeded to the throne as the sultan of Brunei in 1967. He is both the head of state as sultan and the head of the government as the prime minister, according to Xinhua. He is one of the world's richest people and also known to have a passion for cars, maintaining a collection of over hundreds of vehicles, said Moneycontrol.
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos
Thongloun was elected prime minister in April 2016. He became Laos' deputy foreign minister in 1987 and from 2001 to 2006, Thongloun was chairman of state planning committee, according to Global Times.
Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia
Hun Sen, according to The Financial Express, has served as prime minister of Cambodia since 1985, making him one of the world's longest-serving prime ministers.
He is seen as an authoritarian figure with a poor human rights record. He is also credited with helping achieve economic growth after the devastation caused by the Khmer Rouge regime, said BBC.
With inputs from agencies
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