The "first and only" astronaut from the ASEAN region, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor of Malaysia (see video below), dropped by Asia Society in the Philippines earlier this month. Executive Director of Asia Society Philippines, Harvey Keh, said the visit was part of a project to "better understand our ASEAN neighbors."
"It is a pity that many of us actually know more about the United States of America even if it is several thousand miles away compared with our ASEAN neighbors such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia," Keh wrote in a column for the Manila Times.
Shukor's visit came about from a phone call between Keh and the Malaysian ambassador to the Phillipines, Datuk Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad, with both agreeing to a partnership in bringing the astronaut — or cosmonaut, as Shukor "went to space through the Russian space program in October 2007" — to the Philippines.
Could this be Asia Society's first step from international to interplanetary?
Read Harvey Keh's "Asia Society and the ASEAN Astronaut" at the Manila Times here.