Opening Remarks by

Dr. Haruhisa Handa

Founding Chairman, Asia Economic Forum;

Chancellor, University of Cambodia; and

Founder and President, International Foundation for

Arts and Culture


At the Third Asia Economic Forum

“Leadership Needs and Challenges in the Twenty-First Century:

Asian Perspectives”


Inter-Continental Hotel, Phnom Penh,

Kingdom of Cambodia,

2-5 April 2007 



-       Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia,

-       Excellency Ong Keng Yong, Secretary-General of ASEAN,

-       Excellencies, Members of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Parliament,

-       Distinguished international participants,

-       Excellencies, Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

-       Ladies and Gentlemen,


1.     It is indeed a great honor for me to be here today at the Third Asia Economic Forum 2007, in Phnom Penh, with the theme of “Leadership Needs and Challenges in the Twenty-First Century: Asian Perspectives.” This year’s theme for the AEF is absolutely crucial and significant, given the relevance and timely topic of this important gathering of like-minded people.

At the outset, I wish to express my sincere appreciation to Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, for his unfailing support of the Asia Economic Forum as well as for his leadership role in being the Honorary President of the AEF, in which Samdech Prime Minister had graciously accepted during the meeting that we had last year. We also are very much grateful for the advice that Samdech Prime Minister has provided us in terms of how we should continue to build the Asia Economic Forum and how we should involve other key personalities in Asia that we hope to continue to do it.


3.     With the high presence of Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, as well as the keynote address to be given by Samdech Prime Minister at this opening session of the Third Asia Economic Forum this morning, we are greatly honored and pleased. There is no doubt that Samdech Prime Minister’s keynote address will help set the tone for our two-day conference, inspire the long-term view, as well as provide insightful perspective on the role of leadership in Asia in this rapidly changing world. We all will listen to Samdech Prime Minister’s important keynote address with great interest.


4.     At the same time, please allow me to extend my utmost appreciation to Excellency Ong Keng Yong, Secretary-General of ASEAN, for his active support of the Asia Economic Forum and for being one of the founding members of the AEF. In fact, Secretary-General Ong has been attending the Asia Economic Forum for three consecutive years, including this year’s gathering. Despite his busy schedule, Secretary-General Ong has kindly made his time available for our Third Asia Economic Forum.


5.     Given his crucial role as the Secretary-General of one of the most successful regional groupings, I strongly believe that we would greatly benefit from his leadership experience as well as his practical knowledge.


6.     Furthermore, I would like to add my words of thanks to all participants, especially those speakers from overseas, such as Japan, Australia, China, the United States, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, and Vietnam. For our friends from overseas, let me thank each and everyone of you for your value time, your expertise, as well as for your positive contributions to our meeting today and tomorrow.


7.     I also wish to thank all Cambodian participants, including speakers and chairs of the various plenary sessions of the Third Asia Economic Forum, for the active participation, which will be this year’s gathering special and exciting, as the debate will center on leadership needs and challenges facing Asia and the world over.


8.     For topics of the different sessions of the Third Asia Economic Forum, I wish to state that the issue of leadership should be viewed under the different conceptual lenses of those sessions, as follows:


·        “Asian Leadership in the Modern Multidimensional, yet 'Flattening', World”

·        “Leadership in National and Local Government”

·        “Leadership in Regional and Global Affairs”

·        “Leadership and the Elimination of Poverty”

·        “Leadership in Science, Education, Technological Innovation and Environmental Issues”

·        “Leadership and Corporate Governance”


9.     Finally, I wish to underline the importance for all participants to actively engage in deliberations and discussions at this Third AEF, especially on issues such as leadership needs and challenges, globalization, development, poverty reduction, narrowing development, environment, education, and ICT, as well as other issues of interest to various participants.


Thank you.