USP is privileged to represent NUS and Singapore in hosting this year’s 17th ASEAN University Network (AUN) and 6th ASEAN+3 Educational Forum and Young Speakers’ Contest. Initiated by the AUN, the event brings together students from the ASEAN region and ‘+3’ countries (China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) to discuss and explore regional issues. From 22 to 26 May, some 50 AUN delegates reside at the Cinnamon College (USP) and participate in a wide range of activities.
Giving the Welcome Address at the opening ceremony on the morning of 23 May, Associate Professor Peter Pang, NUS Dean of Students, highlighted that as a leading global university in Asia, offering a distinctively Asian and global experience, NUS greatly values its collaborations with the AUN. Reflecting on the theme for this year – “ASEAN+3 in an Era of Global Uncertainty: Responses and Optimism”, Assoc Prof Pang shared why USP is ideal as the host: “the theme is aptly in line with USP’s aim to develop students who are confident to make substantial and meaningful contributions to solving the big problems of our changing world.”
Next up, Dr Choltis Dhirathiti, AUN Deputy Executive Director, gave the Opening Address. He said the event was initiated to strengthen the role of youths in ASEAN+3 countries by providing a platform to engage talented students in an academic forum and to voice their opinions, ideas and aspirations about issues pertinent to the Asian region. “Specifically, the Educational Forum aims to enhance youths’ leadership and engagement in holistic dialogue in the format of an ASEAN summit setting. At the Forum, students from ASEAN+3 countries will have a good chance to discuss and negotiate on important real issues related to regional current agendas,” he added. Dr Dhirathiti further explained that the outcome of the Forum would be formalised in the form of a joint statement, to be sent to the relevant policy channels of ASEAN and its dialogue partners.
Following the official opening of the event, Professor Danny Quah delivered the Keynote Address and Guest Speaker Mr Ivan Yeo shared his thoughts on the changes in ASEAN.
In his Keynote Address, Professor Danny Quah from the NUS Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy expressed his optimism on the potential of ASEAN+3 countries to rise and lead the new World Order. Professor Quah likened World Order to a market powered by both supply and demand, citing Singapore’s taxi industry as an example. “With innovation in the taxi industry [Uber and Grab in Singapore, Di Di Chu Xing in China], the industry is evolving to better serve the customers.” He opined that ASEAN+3 has been progressing in the past 30 years as the world’s economic centre of gravity steadily shifts from the west to the east, pulled by the rise of ASEAN+3 countries.
The Guest Speaker for the day was USP alum Mr Ivan Yeo (Political Science + Economics + USP, Class of 2003). He was a former participant of the Young Speakers’ Contest fifteen years ago, and is currently Senior Director of the Research and Data Division at the Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information. He shared that his takeaway from participating in the event was “that mutual understanding is critical when learning about the cultures in this region.” He spoke on “ASEAN: What has changed in 15 years – Opportunities and Challenges”, sharing his understanding and observations of ASEAN over the years, and suggesting how AUN participants could contribute to the betterment of the region.
“As individual students today, you have an opportunity to think about how you want to contribute to this region. You could be an entrepreneur, a business person, someone who develops something useful, a public officer serving in your respective governments [...] However you choose to contribute to your country, to your region, it is largely dependent on you – your passion, your skills and what you want. There are a lot of opportunities [in ASEAN+3 countries] and I encourage you to think of these opportunities.”
- USP alum and former AUN participant Mr Ivan Yeo
Over the next few days, the delegates will participate in the Educational Forum and Young Speakers’ Contest. They are encouraged to engage actively and meaningfully with one another, and to think critically about the issues presented and discussed. We hope their experience here will be an enriching, inspiring and eye-opening one that they can each bring back and share with their peers and institutions.
See gallery for more photos of the proceedings happening throughout the week.