22 March 2002
Forging Regional Cohesion for Global Advancement
Hello and welcome to Young Expressions, where we
feature the writings of young people in Singapore. In this edition
we bring you the first of a four part special, that focuses on four
university students from Singapore, who'll be joining 20 of their
contemporaries from five other Asian countries for the upcoming
Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative that will take place in July.
The four student Ambassadors from
Singapore selected to participate in the 5th
Hitachi Young Leaders
are: (clockwise from left) Gerald Goh, Singapore
University; Mervyn Sek and Mustafa
Izzuddin, National University of
Rita Zamzamah Binte Mohamed Nazeer,
In today's programme, we meet Rita Zamzamah binte Mohamed Nazeer,
a 3rd year student at Nanyang Technological University. She is one
of the four Singapore student ambassadors who'll be attending the
5th Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative.
"I have grown up with a passion in life. People. My parents
inculcated a strong sense of people-centredness in each of the four
daughters. It was in 1995, that I made a personal decision to commit
myself to community service. I joined the Singapore Children's
Society as a volunteer. The joys of volunteerism bloomed in me until
I decided to join our four-legged friends at the Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Community service knows no
boundaries. While conducting activities for the children, and
fund-raising for the animals, I found myself very attracted to
nature. In 1999, I joined the Nature Society.
My passion for community service self-developed and evolved to a
point that it has become so much a part of my life. Community
service is definitely a way of life I would like to promote to the
masses. It is more the experiences it has brought me, which gives an
unspeakable sense of satisfaction and joy to life. I believe that in
community service, I give to myself just as much as I give of
myself. Perhaps the intangible benefits may be less popular than the
tangible ones. However, many of us fail to recognize that the
essence of a society's strength lies in its intangibles.
We have heard that 'Bad Money Drives Good Money', and quoting
Professor Koh Tai Ann, 'Bad English Drive Good English'. I fear that
'Bad Hearts Drive Good Hearts'. With the current spread of
terrorism, this is a genuine fear. Each society should build towards
cohesion, be it national, regional or global. Our government has
pointed out that our 'heartware' has to complement our 'software'
and 'hardware'. As Egalitarian as that sounds, I believe that
progress is not in achieving this ultimate goal but moving, or even
inching towards it. Social cohesion is indeed a crucial pillar in
the region's structure.
With my passion for people, my future as a teacher fits perfectly
into my life's jigsaw. Teaching has indeed been an exciting
experience for me. Among my high-flying peers, I have chosen the
road less travelled. Yet, this road has a place for me, and I am
glad to be on it. I am certain that this road will lead me towards a
fulfilling career I will never regret.
Educating the young is a tough mission to undertake. Teaching
facts from textbooks towards academic excellence is not just as
tough. School is about holistic education, where each child brings
and takes away unique experiences of life. School is where friends
and foes are made, and where life's experiences teach each child how
to live. Each and every one of them is a gem that needs to feel
precious and important in society. It is my hope to develop the
'heartware' of our impressionable young, into developing good hearts
over bad hearts.
In this dynamic society, where the only constant is change
itself, each and every one of us have a role. In a feeling of
insecurity, we may have the tendency to incline to the 'bad side'.
Fostering a closely-knitted society allows us to cope with changes
as part of a robust structure. Especially in this current economic
slowdown, ASEAN calls for greater regional cohesion to bolster
economic, political and social support. Social cohesion provides
multilateral assistance with common benefits of increasing
investments, jobs and thus, growth. This engine for growth builds a
robust ASEAN infrastructure, which enhances global
This initiative is an active move by Hitachi to encourage
communication among the Asian youths. In joining this initiative, I
hope to challenge my personal set of ideologies with that of the
other participants'. De-structuring my possibly myopic
points-of-view, I hope to broaden my perspectives of life and the
issues surrounding them. It is indeed my hope that us, people with
'Good Hearts' will drive out 'Bad Hearts'. Or perhaps more
accurately, influence the 'Bad Hearts' in seeking them to show their
1. In what ways do you think that 'Regional Cohesion' will
benefit the progress and growth of the ASEAN / Asia Region?
The continual challenge the world faces today, is that of keeping
up with changes. Especially in the current economic slowdown, ASEAN
calls for greater regional cohesion to bolster economic, political
and social support. Regional cohesion provides multilateral
assistance with common benefits of increasing investments, jobs and
thus, growth. This engine for growth builds a robust ASEAN
infrastructure, which enhances global competitiveness.
2. What qualities do you think an entrepreneur should possess?
Who among the entrepreneurs in the Asia do you admire and why?
An entrepreneur is one who takes charge of one's action as,
embracing the fruits of success and repercussions of failure, just
as gracefully. One with a non-conformist thinking, a successful
entrepreneur sees risk and failure as natural and necessary for
success. Bernard Harrison, CEO of Wildlife reserves, is possibly not
often recognized for his ability to balance entrepreneurial demands
and passion for wildlife. I admire his passion and dedication to
conservation, as well as his natural gift to maximise utility in the
constraints of resources.
3. How do you feel the role of media can help advance or foster
In this exciting time of change, it is essential for the people
of the region to be kept informed. On top of just providing factual
information, I feel that the media plays an educational role to
encourage and motivate readers towards a global moral sense, which
increasingly unites us all. Readers should be aware of biaseness in
various media, in pushing individual interests. It is thus crucial
to move towards exposure to various media in obtaining an objective
and informed point-of-view.
4. How do you perceive the role of big organizations, in relation
to social and community responsibility?
It is important to maintain an effervescent mix of companies in
the region. Big organizations, together with small local and foreign
companies, should compete and complement each other to thrive
towards regional cohesion, where big organizations act as platforms
for establishing players to grow. A self-sustaining enterprise
ecosystem can result from contributions in various directions from
sectors of society.
5. How do you think you can contribute to and benefit from
participating in this initiative?
I hope to challenge my personal set of ideologies with that of
the other participants' in this Initiative. De-structuring my
possibly myopic points-of-view, I hope to broaden my perspectives of
life and the issues surrounding them. In this dynamic exchange,
while I learn from others, I hope to contribute in enriching their
experiences with my thoughts and presence. This Initiative is also
an exciting opportunity for us to lay the foundations of network
towards sustaining regional cohesion.
6. Should you be selected for this programme with the main
theme “Asia’s Roadmap – Forging Regional Cohesion for Global
Advancement”, which one of the following workshop sub-themes would
interest you most? And why?
a. Cultivating Entrepreneurial Spirit in Asia
b. The Growing
Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility in Asia
Changing Role of the Media in Asia
I am most keen in exploring the sub-theme 'The Changing Role of
Media in Asia'. I have always been interested in the evolution of
media in the world. Asia, in particular, is unique due to its strong
and distinct cultural influences. The gap glares with the coming of
globalization, which calls for a revise in the role of media in
Asia. I hope to take this opportunity to delve into, and discuss