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The 15th ASEAN Leadership Forum

By Maria Townsend 08/05/2018
To finish off a busy month, on the 28th of April, Paddy Schubert Consultants attended the 15th ASEAN Leadership Forum at the Marina Mandarin Hotel in Singapore.  The ASEAN Leadership Forum is a high level forum held annually, around the dates of the April Summit of ASEAN.

The venue was Singapore, as the country takes the ASEAN Chairmanship for the year. In outlining Singapore’s priorities for its ASEAN Chairmanship, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about strengthening regional economic resilience, deepening cooperation and coordination in the ASEAN Digital Economy, promoting innovation and moving forward with regional integration initiatives such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

With huge changes being made globally, in the Americas and across Europe, ASEAN cannot afford to be left behind. ASEAN holds the world’s third largest population, 70 percent of whom are under 40, giving it the potential to be big, dynamic and a force to be reckoned with.  It is one of the fastest growing Internet regions in the world, with an expected 480 million users by 2020. Tencent counts ASEAN and China as the second largest centre of innovations behind only North America.

Today, thanks to changing demographics and worker attitudes, digital enablement and strong growth, the workplace in Southeast Asia today is scarcely recognizable from what it was a decade ago. The ASEAN region has the fastest-growing working-age population in Asia and it will add an estimated 50 million people between 2010 and 2020. Many of those workers are highly mobile and digital savvy, with different perspectives than previous generations on what constitutes a fulfilling career.

The turnout was impressive and included not only businessmen and investors to the Aszean region, but also academic scholars and senior government officials across the ASEAN community. 

The session was opened early morning with welcome remarks by Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Michael Yeoh, Chairman of ASEAN Leadership Forum and CEO of Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI), Dr. Robert Yap, Chairman of ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and Executive Chairman of the YCH Group Singapore, and an opening speech by Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, Executive Deputy Chairman of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and former ASEAN Secretary General.

The main focus of the forum was the future challenges facing ASEAN in the new glabl era.  The Hon. Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, ended the evening and gave a thrilling special dinner address.  He discussed the need for ASEAN to future-proof itself, and to to become the FinTech global centre.