Gary Rodan, director of the Asia Research Center at Murdoch University in Western Australia, says the visit is an opportunity for Singapore, Burma's largest foreign investor, to press for reform.
"There is an opportunity here for Lee Hsein Loong to very quickly make a mark in foreign policy," he said. "It depends very much on how much he sees this as an opportunity to enhance Singapore's role within the region and its role within ASEAN."
Malaysia and Singapore appear concerned that ASEAN's international standing will be hurt if Burma takes the chairmanship. Burma already faces tough economic sanctions and criticism from both the United States and the European Union over its human rights record.
Mr. Rodan says Singapore and Malaysia would be concerned if Burma's taking up the chair undermined their relationships with the United States and Europe - major trading partners.