(Excerpt from Deputy Minister of Youth & Sports, Steven Sim Chee Keong’s speech at the Conference on Asian Civilisations Dialogue in Beijing on 15 May 2019)
What is the shape of our shared future?
One, it must be based on good governance. Both our leaders, Tun Dr Mahathir and President Xi Jin Ping are crusaders against corruption and abuse of power. It is on this term that we must envision our shared future. A future without integrity and moral compass especially on the part of those in power will mean a future where the powerless is vulnerable against the powerful.
Two, it must be based on our past friendship experience of harmony and not hegemony. Countries must come together in the great Global Chorus instead of a one-man show Solo. Both history and globalisation must awaken us to the fact that there is but one planet earth and relationships between countries are best manifested in a non-zero sum manner. We must seek mutual prosperity instead of exploitation.
Three and finally, the great Global Chorus must invite young people to take part in its songs. The World Economic Forum puts youth as 42% of the world’s population. With better education and access to information, young people today are more informed and intelligent compared to young people in the past. It is therefore highly illogical and even undemocratic to exclude them from being involved in shaping the future. When our legendary admirals, Hang Tuah and Zheng He traveled across the South China Sea, they were young, perhaps not even 40 years of age. The generally cosmopolitan nature of youth enabled our young admirals to explore, and embrace different cultures without losing their own. In the same spirit, we should galvanise the youthful energy of this generation to shape our shared future.