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Young Expressions

06 April 2002

Corporate Social Responsibility in Asia

Hello and welcome to Young Expressions, where we feature the writings of young people in Singapore. In this edition we bring you the third 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  Initiative.
 
 They are: (clockwise from left)  Gerald Goh, Singapore Management
 University; Mervyn Sek and Mustafa  Izzuddin, National University of
 Singapore and Rita Zamzamah Binte  Mohamed Nazeer, Nanyang
 Technological University.

In today's programme, we meet Mervyn Sek Kok Chuan, 4th year Economics student at the National University of Singapore

5th Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative - I am very honoured to be selected to serve my country in this regional event.
As the Initiative will be held in Singapore, this will provide me with the excellent opportunity to represent my country as a youth ambassador and to present Singapore as the gracious host for this event. Furthermore, with my rich experience in community service and voluntary work, I believe that I will be able to play an integral part in motivating participation amongst the other participants in the two-day community service project, which involves interaction with some intellectually disabled members of society.

As it is my ambition to continue serving my nation in whichever capacity I am blessed with, I hope that this Initiative would help me to achieve a clearer stand on issues of regional and global significance, whilst allowing me to establish a network of friends from the other participating Asian countries through the exchange of views and participation in cross-cultural activities.

I believe in the increasing need for corporations to identify that they belong to society and for them to always consider the need to contribute to society. Although corporate volunteerism is one avenue for companies to engage in corporate social activism, it is nonetheless an important way for corporations to show their appreciation to society. I am, of course, very glad that Hitachi has taken the lead in building strong community relations with its annual support for the Christmas Light-Up along Orchard Road since 1991, as well as this Young Leaders Initiative.

I look forward to effectively contributing my analytical, interpersonal and organisational skills to the success of the Initiative.


1. In what ways do you think that ‘Regional Cohesion’ will benefit the progress and growth of the ASEAN/Asia region?

By cooperating based on the principles of self-confidence, self-reliance, mutual respect, cooperation and solidarity, a strong and viable community of nations in Southeast Asia can be established. Through political dialogue and confidence building, no tension has escalated into armed confrontation among ASEAN members since its establishment more than three decades ago. It is hence through regional cohesion that cordial relations can be maintained.

The achievement of the ASEAN Free Trade Area would help increase the ASEAN region’s competitive advantage as a single production unit. It is hoped that the ASEAN Vision 2020 will help create a stable, prosperous and highly competitive ASEAN Economic Region, in which there is a free flow of goods, services, investments, capital, and equitable economic development and reduced poverty and socio-economic disparities.


2. What qualities do you think an entrepreneur should possess? Who among the entrepreneurs in Asia do you admire and why?

I believe that anybody can be a successful entrepreneur if he/she has these crucial qualities:
· Be envisioned – The entrepreneur must have a clearly defined goal and an uncanny ability to use innovation as a tool to achieve the goal.
· Have an open mind – The entrepreneur must acknowledge that uncertainties exist in the real world, and hence there always the need to learn and grow.
· Recognise opportunities – The entrepreneur must be a keen observer, and should note that business dynamics require risk-taking at times.
· Be a team person – The entrepreneur must be able to motivate and channel human resources in the right direction.
· Have rapid response – The entrepreneur must be able to make quick yet well-thought, responsible decisions.

While there are many famous Asian entrepreneurs, there is one person who I admire for her dedication and contribution to society. While in business since 1994, Ms Claire Chiang continued to be involved in theoretical and practical issues in such diverse fields as human resource management, business entrepreneurship, voluntarism, gender relations, as well as community development. Also having served in the political arena as a Nominated Member of Parliament, Ms Chiang has shown to be both an excellent leader and team worker.


3. How do you feel the role of the media can help advance or foster regional cohesion?

The media, which comprises of the press, and television, radio, film and video, play an important role in the national development of the respective ASEAN member countries and in enhancing ASEAN regional cooperation. It is crucial for the promotion of an effective exchange of news and information among member countries to achieve a free and balanced flow of information among ASEAN member countries.

The press and the electronic media in ASEAN have a role and responsibility to continue promoting greater awareness and understanding among the peoples of ASEAN of their history, traditions, ideals and values, and continue to enhance positive relationships among ASEAN member countries. The press is crucial in enhancing ASEAN solidarity, and it should continue to exercise sensitivity in handling issues that might affect our regional cohesion.


4. How do you perceive the role of big organisations, in relation to social and community responsibility?

While large business enterprises are mainly committed to contribute to their own economic development, it is crucial that they identify and acknowledge their corporate social responsibility to improve the quality of life of their workforce and their families, as well as of the local community and society at large. Through production, employment relations, and their investments, companies are able to influence employment, the quality of jobs and the quality of industrial relations, including respecting fundamental rights, equal opportunities, non-discrimination, the quality of goods and services, health and the environment.

It is through the government’s support that social and community activism can be promoted and achieved, but ultimately, corporations must take the initiative to provide for the society. In Singapore, it is very encouraging to note that over 60 corporations have taken the lead in granting staff time off to do community work. Social welfare involves a focus on social services as a heartware fundamental, integral to any effort in governance to ensure social equity and the total wellness of the people of the country.


5. How do you think you can contribute to and benefit from participating in this Initiative?

I hope to effectively contribute my analytical, interpersonal and organisational skills to the success of the Initiative. As the Initiative will be held in Singapore, this will provide me with the excellent opportunity to represent my country as a youth ambassador and to present Singapore as the gracious host for this event. Furthermore, with my rich experience in community service and voluntary work, I believe that I will be able to play an integral part in motivating participation amongst the other participants in the two-day community service project, which involves a camp for less fortunate children.

As it is my ambition to serve my nation one day in the capacity of a Member of Parliament, I hope that this Initiative would help me to achieve a clearer stand on issues of regional and global significance, whilst allowing me to establish a network of friends from the other participating ASEAN countries through the exchange of views and participation in cross-cultural activities.


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
c. The Changing Role of the Media in Asia

I am interested in participating in “The Growing Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility in Asia” workshop. Having served as a volunteer coordinator in NUS and having worked closely with the National Volunteer Centre in Singapore, it is ideal for me to participate in this workshop, so as to share my experience and views with the others.

I believe in the increasing need for corporations to identify that they belong to society and for them to always consider the need to contribute to society. Although corporate volunteerism is but one avenue for companies to partake in corporate social activism, it is nonetheless an important way for corporations to show their appreciation to society. As Singapore has successfully initiated systemic structures for corporations to participate in social activism, it would be encouraging to share these with our Asian neighbours.

22 March — Young Photographers series : Winner of the Photographer of the Year Award (SAFRA) - Yian Huang .
15 March — Young Photographers series - the Poet Photographer Leonard Goh.
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