Southeast Asia's trio of new leaders have embarked on an informal drive to restore some lustre to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). In recent years, the forum, regularly feted in the 1980s and 1990s for its dynamism, has been perceived as losing its momentum as member states have been dogged by internal disputes, especially its largest member, Indonesia. Economists have also noted that Asean struggled to retain international investor interest in the wake of the regional crisis of the late 1990s. They say East Asia in general, and China in particular, have come to dominate as the mainland prepares for entry into the World Trade Organisation. Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, his Philippine counterpart, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Indonesia's new head of state Megawati Sukarnoputri have all toured the region in recent days. The three came to power this year. Ms Megawati's trip was the most comprehensive as she called on all nine other Asean states during the course of an eight-day trip. The flurry of diplomacy has served both to boost the new leaders' knowledge of fellow regional decision-makers and also handed them a chance to talk up the prospects of a revival in Asean's fortunes. During a stop in Singapore his first visit as prime minister, Mr Thaksin said: 'The Asean summit in Brunei Darussalam this November will be of great relevance in reaffirming our political commitment to the Asean Free Trade Area process and intensification of regional integration. There can surely be no turning back if we are to realise our long-awaited goal of a vibrant Asean market of over 500 million people.' Under the Asian Free Trade Agreeement, all but minimal barriers to intra-regional trade between the group's core members - Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand - are to go from next year. During her two days in Singapore, Ms Arroyo went about restating the Philippines' commitment to Asean as a key vehicle for promoting free-trade initiatives and enhancing regional co-operation.