RSIS Panel Seminar by Mr Hirubalan V P, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore and Colonel Aaron Beng, Director (Policy), Defence Policy Office, Ministry of Defence, Singapore
Outlook on Singapore’s ASEAN Chairmanship Year
This seminar provides an update on Singapore’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2018. As we approach the 32nd ASEAN Summit at the end of April, panelists from Singapore’s government will offer insights on the goals and expectations of Singapore’s ASEAN Chairmanship, what has been achieved, and the outlook for the rest of the Chairmanship year. Progress in the three pillars of the ASEAN Community (Political-Security, Economic, and Socio-Cultural) will also be discussed. Following the panelists’ presentations will be a question-and-answer session moderated by Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, Executive Deputy Chairman of RSIS.
About the Speakers
Hirubalan V P, presently a Senior Adviser with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Singapore, served as the Deputy Secretary General of the ASEAN Political-Security Community Department in the ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, for three years from February 2015.
He served in Singapore’s Ministry for Defence in various appointments before his transfer to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in June 1996. After a stint in the Singapore Embassy in Jakarta from February 1998 to December 2001 as Minister-Counsellor and later as Deputy Chief of Mission, he was appointed Singapore’s High Commissioner to Negara Brunei Darussalam where he served from January 2002 to December 2005.
His next posting was to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where he served as Singapore’s Ambassador from February 2006 to July 2009. Concurrently, he was accredited as the non-resident Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain from September 2007 to July 2009 and Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman from April 2007 to April 2008. Upon his return, he was appointed Director of the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia Directorate from July 2009 to February 2012, and subsequently Singapore’s Ambassador to Philippines from March 2012 to January 2015.
He graduated First Class (Honours) from the University of Singapore in 1980, and subsequently obtained his Masters of Arts (International Relations) in 1986 from Yale University, USA, on a Fulbright Scholarship.
He was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 1996. He was also conferred the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Grand Cross, Gold Distinction, by President Benigno S Aquino III in January 2015, in recognition of his significant contributions in further strengthening and deepening bilateral relations between the Philippines and Singapore.
Aaron Beng is a naval officer by training and was enlisted into the Singapore Armed Forces in January 2000 and was awarded the prestigious President’s scholarship and Singapore Armed Force Overseas Scholarship. He graduated cum laude from Yale University in 2004 with a B.SC in Economics and Engineering Sciences (Electrical). He also attended the US Naval Staff College course, conducted at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island in 2012.
Colonel Beng was most recently Commanding Officer of the Singapore Navy’s Formidable-class frigate Squadron from June 2016 to June 2017. His formative years were spent on board the Singapore Navy’s Missile Corvettes. In 2011-2012, he served as Executive Officer of the Formidable-class frigate RSS STALWART. In 2013-2014, Colonel Beng assumed command of the frigate RSS INTREPID. From June to August 2014, he led the ship and an embarked Naval Helicopter detachment to participate in a successful deployment to the Rim of the Pacific Exercise in Honolulu, Hawaii which also included port calls in Japan and China.
Colonel Beng assumed the appointment of Director (Policy) in July 2017. Prior to this, he has also held various staff appointments in the Ministry of Defence and Republic of Singapore Navy Headquarters. Most recently, from December 2014 to June 2016, Colonel Beng was Head, Republic of Singapore Navy Strategy Office which oversees long-term and strategic planning for the Singapore Navy.
Colonel Beng is happily married to Sharon Koh and they have two children, Aiden Beng and Sheryl Beng.