Building a Better Asia: Future Leaders’ Dialogue – “BUILDING THE COMMON GOOD IN ASIA”

Building a Better Asia: Future Leaders’ Dialogue – “Building the Common Good in Asia”

Participants and Resource Persons of the 2nd Building a Better Asia: Future Leaders’ Dialogue




The “2nd Building a Better Asia: Future Leaders’ Dialogue” begun with an inspiring keynote speech by Dr. Surin Pitsuwan . who asserted the essential unity of Asia despite its enormous diversity. Dr. Pitsuwan, who is Secretary General Designate of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), cited the opinion of Japanese visionary Kakuzo Okakura on the unity of Asia.

However, even before Okakura penned down his “Asia is one” the Javanese had an ancient expression “Bhennika Tungggal Ika” which means unity in diversity. As such, Dr. Pitsuwan added, Asians are equipped with the ability of harmonizing what is seen by others as mutually exclusive and contradictory.

He stressed, however, that the unity of Asia was not meant as a hegemony of any particular state over others. “The age of imperialism is over,” said Dr. Pitsuwan who was Foreign Minister of Thailand between 1997-2001. While his generation had sown the seeds of cooperation among Asian nations he expressed the hope that future leaders of Asia will nurture the tree of that unity to its fullest potential.

Twenty three young leaders of Asia from 16 countries participated in the six-day retreat which was sponsored by the Nippon Foundation of Japan and organized by Peking University and the Information & Resource Center of Singapore. The participants were drawn from the pool of alumni of the various programmes of The Nippon Foundation, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation and The Tokyo Foundation.

Dr. Pitsuwan’s speech was followed by an engaging question and answer session where participants queried him on the enormous challenges confronting Asia due to its diverse political systems and different levels of development. He was also questioned on the doctrine of non-interference of ASEAN.

Earlier, Prof. Min Weifang, Chairman of the University Council of Peking University welcomed the participants to Peking University and said that with the increasing importance of Asia the responsibility of building a better Asia lay with the young leaders. The Director of the Information & Resource Center, M Rajaretnam, called for an ASIA that is more open, just, egalitarian, and more environmentally livable. The objective of the dialogues, he stressed, is to give opportunity to the participants to introduce new thinking to promote mutually beneficial cooperation and to establish networks of people throughout Asia and the world.

Aside from their encounter with the Dr Surin Pitsuwan the participants had a busy schedule of discussions with several well-known experts from different parts of the world: Prof Amitav Acharya from the University of Bristol; Yuli Ismartono of Indonesia; Dr Rajiv Kumar from India; Prof. Sachihiko Harashina of Japan; Prof. Pang Eng Fong from Singapore; and Prof Wang Jisi of China. The participants had a long and interesting session with Mr Takeju Ogata, President of the Nippon Foundation.

The retreat ended on Saturday 15 September 2007 after the participants deliberated upon and issued a communiqué .

Also See: Programme | Biodata of Participants| Biodata of Resource Persons||Biodata of Academic Committee Members Speeches –Surin Pitsuwan, |Min Weifang,| M Rajaretnam|Communique