Indonesia has been acting behind the scenes and they have been keeping the cards close to their chest, said Ms Seah.
“They have not been willing to divulge much of what’s happening. At the summit, we are expecting that the chair’s special envoy will brief the leaders on these quiet diplomacy actions that have been reportedly taken,” she told CNA938.
The ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Centre will also present its joint assessment to the leaders, she added.
“There are some people who expect that ASEAN will abandon the Five-Point Consensus totally, but it’s not going to happen because it’s already set in motion,” she said.
Experts said the road ahead will be challenging.
There is a “sharpening of grip” multilaterally by the United States and China, with potential flashpoints likely in Taiwan and South China Sea, said researcher at the Centre for Strategic & International Studies Muhammad Waffaa Kharisma.
“There’s a pressure for ASEAN to be relevant in that sense. And then internally, for example, (for it to deal with) the economy and development issues (and) how ASEAN can stay resilient in the middle of crises like the climate,” he said.
The issue of ASEAN unity and centrality will be “foremost in the minds of the leaders”, said Ms Seah.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in a press conference in Jakarta previously that it is important to strengthen ASEAN’s capacity and ensure the bloc works more effectively to overcome future challenges.
“It is important to continue to maintain the unity and centrality of ASEAN so that ASEAN is able to continue to be a locomotive for regional peace and stability,” she said.
Read the full article here