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APRIL 22, 2002

Undergrads rev up for action at youth meet

The four will get chance to sharpen their minds as they mix with peers from the region at Hitachi Youth Leaders Initiative

By Shahida Ariff

IN HIS four years at the National University of Singapore, student Mervyn Sek has held more than 40 positions in about 10 student organisations.

But half his time is devoted to one group, the university's volunteer action committee, where he interacts with old folks and intellectually-disabled children, and organises fund-raising activities.

However, the 23-year-old final-year economics student thinks he is one of only a few active volunteers, and he wants to encourage more to be like him.

He hopes to pick up tips on how to do this at the Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative, an annual event that unites 24 youths from the region, who meet to exchange ideas on regional issues, this July.

This year's forum will be held here, with the other participants coming from Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Three other Singapore undergraduates have also been selected for the meeting. They were selected based on their academic results, and co-curricular-activity and community-service involvement.

Mr Sek will discuss with his peers the topic of the growing importance of corporate social responsibility in Asia.

'The level of corporate volunteerism here is low,' he said. 'Companies here should consider doing more, like allocating more days for volunteer work, especially for their younger employees, who have the energy.'

Like Mr Sek, the other three undergraduates have chosen to discuss issues close to their hearts at the five-day forum.

Third-year National Institute of Education student Rita Zamzamah Mohamed Nazeer, 22, intends to talk about the changing role of the media in Asia.

'Look at how the media played a part in the conservation of Chek Jawa,' said the nature lover, referring to the Government's decision to preserve the beach at Pulau Ubin temporarily instead of reclaiming it for military use.

'It played a huge role in getting people to influence an important decision, and I'd like to look at the implications of this.'

She is a member of the Nature Society and goes to Chek Jawa regularly. Earlier this year, she started the NIE Green Club, hoping to spread the message of environmental conservation among fellow trainee teachers.

NUS first-year arts and social sciences student Mustafa Izzuddin, 22, and Singapore Management University second-year finance student Gerald Goh, 23, the other two in the quartet, plan to debate the current hot topic in Singapore - cultivating the entrepreneurial spirit.

The 24 youths attending the meeting will take part in forums, plenary sessions and workshops, and get involved in community work.

Keynote speakers at the conference are Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts David Lim and Thai member of parliament Sukhumband Paribatra. They will speak on how Asian countries can work together to stay competitive in the global marketplace.

Copyright @ 2002 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.