JULY 30, 2002
youth leaders pose questions on tough issues
REGIONAL youth leaders yesterday quizzed politicians and business chiefs on
some tough issues ranging from whether Asean is a talk shop to globalisation's
effect on local values and nurturing entrepreneurship.
National University of Singapore undergraduate Mustafa Izzuddin asked if
Asean had outlived its usefulness, while Manila University student William Panlilio wondered how the regional body can progress beyond being a 'chit-chat
Speaking at a forum of the Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative, Acting
Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts David Lim said Asean has
made progress with deals such as the Asean Free Trade Area.
Critics of Asean cannot be silenced by making more resolutions, he said. 'It
depends on how resolute we are to follow up on the resolutions,' he told the
audience of about 200 people. Give and take is needed, and countries must focus
on how everyone can benefit.
Competition is unavoidable among member countries, but the goal is to make
the pie bigger, he said when answering questions after his keynote address.
The Hitachi initiative aims to identify and encourage young leaders in Asia,
with 24 undergraduates picked from Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore and Thailand.
Yesterday's forum, which was held at the Shangri-La, focused on Asia's road
map for the future.
Mr Lim also answered a student who was worried about how to balance
globalisation and preserving local culture. He said that what is important is
the kind of values that a society has, in particular, whether it offers equality
of opportunity rather than outcome.
Singapore has chosen meritocracy, he said, adding: 'There's an Asian-ness we
can lay on top of it but you've got to go back to fundamentals and ask, 'What
values?' Asian-ness is just a certain label.'
At a later panel discussion on entrepreneurship and media, Dr Marwah Daud
Ibrahim, a member of Indonesia's Parliament, said retaining identity 'rather
than bowing to the global version on offer' requires redefining the role of the
Changes she advocated included shifting the focus from entertainment to
edutainment; from consumerism to a productive life; from a bias on Western,
urban and elite values to Eastern, rural values; and from government propaganda
to empowerment of the people.
Dr Dumrong Kasemset, chairman of the executive committee of Thailand's
telecoms giant Shin Satellite Public Company, said globalisation required new
ways of doing business. Values such as respect for authority may become a
handicap to innovation.
How Asian societies deal with the need for participative organisation and
out-of-the-box thinking are key issues, he said.
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