Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Distinguished National and International Guests!
In this marvelous and friendly atmosphere, I am very pleased to welcome you to this Gala Dinner of the 6th General Assembly of ICAPP, held in Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. I would like to take this opportunity to extend a warmest welcome to all the Delegates to the 6th General Assembly of ICAPP, including the political parties’ leaders and representatives of relevant institutions across the globe, on the 10th Anniversary of ICAPP for its remarkable progress and contribution to the causes of peace, stability and prosperity in Asia.
We are gathering here on behalf of Asia’s political parties. As we have witnessed, under powers of regionalization and globalization, Asia has gone through a sweeping change both in term of political and socio-economic landscapes during the last few decades. More importantly, after the recent global financial crisis, Asia is becoming a growth driver of the world economy. Nowhere in the world could be the pace of metamorphosis comparing to Asia. In fact, governments in Asia have actively responded to changes, reflected through number of measures to ensure peace and stability, to promote governance and to build national capacity. Asia’s proactive approach into the steadfast revolution of information and communication technology (ICT) has broken through and overcome many challenges in promoting and sharing knowledge among the growing public masses. Furthermore, new wave of regionalism took deep roots in Asia and has shaped inter-related mechanisms for free trade zones, of which a number of agreements were concluded during the 17th ASEAN Summit and its related Summits last October in Hanoi as well as Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Cooperation (CLV), Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Cooperation (CLMV) and Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Thailand-Vietnam Cooperation (ACMECS) Summits recently hosted by Cambodia.
Facing these changes, I view that regional political leaders must revisit their role in order to stay relevant and effective in addressing tough issues of sustainable economic growth, climate change, food and energy security, sustainable natural resources management and environmental protection. Certainly, managing these changes is becoming more complex, as the world is now becoming multi-polar, and requires higher capacity and art of political leadership and diplomacy.
In reality, each political party is working within its country’s border and has its owned strategy. However, we have the same and single objective to best serve our people’s interests through steadily improving their living standards and security. Therefore, we have to effectively respond to the challenges and opportunities, they are facing. Since we are in trust and received mandate from our people to govern and serve them, we bear responsibilities providing them basic goods and services for their needs. Furthermore, we need to introduce long-term programs and visions of socio-economic development for the benefit of our countries and peoples, as well as for regional community and the world. However, our people judge us based on our concrete actions, which frequently reflect short-term value of provided goods and services rather than on value of progress toward welfare and long-term growth. In this regard, a key challenge of political leadership is to implement political agenda to realize gigantic ambition, while ensuring support from people, which has higher value than winning elections for each and every short-term mandate.
While the shift of international economics and politics is more concentrating in Asia, regional political parties need to set their agenda beyond the national local interests to address regional interests and the future development of Asia as a whole. In this context, I would like to put forward the following issues for consideration:
First, Recent evolution clearly shows that the gravity of international power and economy is shifting from developed countries to Asia. Thus, Asia is expected to bear growing responsibilities for the future of the world. With a strong believe that prosperity in Asia could be realized, we, political parties and Leaders of Asia, need to work collectively to improve policy coordination and address development imbalances within the region and in the world.
Second, Recovery of the Asian economies is also a sign of increasing consumption of natural resources and energy in the future. Thus, Asia cannot go on with business as usual. As a leading role in the architecture of international economy and finance, Asia need to thrive for a new plateau in transforming itself to be a center of innovation, source of technologies and role model in environmental management. Moreover, facing the threat of climate change and spreading of diseases, capacity building, cooperation and coordination in disaster management is another important need to be included in our political agenda at national and regional level and should not be overlooked. Within the new aspect, it requires Governments and its institutions, particularly Asia political parties, to pay more serious attention in preparing their agenda for long-term development.
Third, Recovery of some Asia’s economies, after the global financial crisis opened up a rare opportunity for regional development. However, it would not ensure that development gaps of all aspects within a country, among countries and across the region will automatically close. Asia remains home of largest poor people in the world. Closing development gaps within a country and among countries in region remain to be our main challenge. In this regard, Asia’s political agenda should emphasize closing all aspects of developmental gaps, particularly eliminate poverty, establish social safe nets, invest in public health and education and develop other social sectors, while creating economic opportunities for all.
Fourth, Demographic change is affecting labor productivity and competitiveness in the global economy. Developed economies are experiencing the increase of aging population but South and Southeast economies are experiencing emergence of young dynamic labor force. Asia therefore will provide ample competitive labor for global labor demand in industries and manufacturing and services. We have to recognize however that cheap labor is no longer a comparative advantage. In contrast, intellectual capital and highly skilled labor force are the determinants of global comparative advantage. In this sense, human resources development, highly skilled and healthy, remains the highest priority in development agenda of Asian political parties and governments.
Against the backdrop of the above-mentioned trends, it reconfirmed the significance of the International Conference of Asia Political Parties (ICAPP) to promote trust and understanding among the different political parties within the continent, but as political parties they can drive policy agenda for regional cooperation, collaboration and integration. With trust and mutual understanding, we could create collective voices to successfully address emerging regional and international issues along the development path.
Finally, I would like to invite Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen to raise your glasses to our long-lasting friendship and cooperation, to the shared prosperity among our people and countries, and to the good health of all Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen here present.
Cheers and thank you!