SPEECH BY DR KOH POH KOON, SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE, MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY, AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 12th HWA CHONG ASIA-PACIFIC YOUNG LEADERS SUMMIT ON MONDAY, 23 JULY 2018, 8.25AM, AT THE HWA CHONG INSTITUTION HIGH SCHOOL AUDITORIUM
Chia Ban Tin, Superintendent, West 6 Cluster, Ministry of Education
Mr Pang Choon How, Principal, Hwa Chong Institution;
Student Delegates and Teacher Chaperons;
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Good morning. I am delighted to be here today at the opening ceremony of the 12th Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit (HC-APYLS). I want to extend a warm welcome to all our international friends, and I hope this will be a very fruitful and enjoyable experience for you.
2. This Summit has grown remarkably, both in ideas and in participation over the years. The common belief that every individual can make a difference is one of the drivers that has brought all of us here today. This shared vision has propelled HC-APYLS to become a platform for aspiring student leaders around the world to voice their aspirations for the global community. With each summit comes a fresh wave of youthful idealism and passion to create a better future. This year, youth leaders from 13 countries across five continents have come together to participate in this summit and share their ideas and vision for the future. I certainly hope that with your passion, coupled with your ingenuity and creativity will resonate in the many conversations and friendships that you will make during this summit.
IGNITE: Rekindling our Dreams
3. The theme for this year’s Summit is “IGNITE: Rekindling our Dreams”. In today’s highly polarised world – with issues such as global politics, geo-political situations, trade wars looming over the horizon and Brexit, just to name a few – it is important for us to take a step back and ask ourselves, what is it that binds us together as humanity? How can we as young leaders, leaders of the future generation, make a difference to make the world a better place? It is not enough to just rekindle your dreams; it is also important to ask ourselves what makes us common beings on this planet that we share.
4. Whether it is in the area of global change, climate change or sustainable development, the world today is growing rapidly in terms of its population. How can we continue to feed the growing population in the decades to come? Will this become the tinder for more social unrest or geopolitical tensions? I think these are questions that you will have to handle in your times.
5. Other areas – technological disruptions. The young population today are very savvy with technology, so we are well-poised to tackle challenges that technological disruptions may bring. Yet none of us are able to predict the future to know what kind of technology will disrupt us. In the commercial economic space, disruption comes from unexpected directions. For example, if you are a camera manufacturer, the technology that disrupts you is not from a fellow camera manufacturer but the smart phone. The question for your generation is how do you prepare yourselves to navigate these challenges? How do you exercise leadership to make sure that the world is able to leverage the technology and become better, and not become more fragmented?
6. Next year, Singapore will celebrate our bicentennial – 200 years since Sir Stanford Raffles landed on our shores. What does that mean for us? What does it mean to commemorate 200 years of our history? Have we changed much? From 1890, a sleepy fishing village to a global financial hub and one of the busiest sea port and air port in the world. We have certainly grown in terms of economic size, but what has not changed for us? How can we leverage on the bicentennial to reflect on what makes us Singapore and what lessons does it have for us here today? What are the things that are constant and will keep us anchored as a people, despite the changing times?
7. Today, you are going to be global citizens. With the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), 11 countries have agreed to merge our economic spheres to become a giant economic bloc. That opens up opportunities for all of you in the future. Are you prepared as young leaders of the future to travel, to know more about your neighbors and your surroundings?
8. There are things that will not change with times. First, you cannot change your neighbors. Our neighboring countries will still be here – we have to learn to work with them, we have to understand each other and forge good partnerships. Second, we will always be a small country with no resources. What does that mean for us? Third, for 200 years, we have been a free port that has no tariffs – goods going in and out of Singapore are virtually tax free. How can we continue to maintain that status as an open port and resist the tides of protectionism and nativist policies from around the world that want to close doors on us? Can we survive as a small country if protectionism is here to stay and we become isolated? These are real questions and challenges that we all have to tackle. It is through platforms like these where the new generation of leaders of tomorrow are all in one hall and have the chance to interact and discuss the larger issues at play, and what will shape our collective future.
9. All of us have a stake in the well-being of our communities. We have a commitment to the communities we live in and are ultimately responsible for the future that we want to see. Many of you have flown a long way to be here in Singapore. Thank you for being part of this global conversations on change and for believing that one day all of you will make a big difference, wherever you are. And as you deliberate and ponder on the theme of this summit, may you all take this chance to redefine the values that guide you and to rekindle the passion for change.
10. I wish all of you a fruitful summit. Continue dreaming, doing and inspiring. Thank you.