7th Asia Economic Forum

7th Asia Economic Forum “The Asian Century in the Making: Achievements, Challenges, and Future Trends

 

The Asia Economic Forum (AEF), "The Asian Century in the Making: Achievements, Challenges, and Future Trends," reconvened for the seventh consecutive year in Phnom Penh from July 30-31, 2011. The distinguished speakers in the eight plenary sessions during the two-day forum consisted of high-level government officials, policymakers, scholars, researchers, public and private sector leaders, and youth leaders. Over 300 people attended the forum and included government officials, policymakers, scholars, representatives of international institutions, and representatives of civil society. This was also the first AEF in which Young Leaders were invited to participate, resulting in over 20 Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Young Leaders and six Cambodian Young Leaders attending the forum.

H.E. Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, Adviser to Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen and President of the University of Cambodia (UC), delivered the welcoming remarks for the opening session of the 7th AEF, while H.E. Dr. Haruhisa Handa, Adviser to Samdech Techo Prime Minister, Adviser to the Royal Government of Cambodia, Founder and Chairman of AEF, Chancellor of UC, President and Founder of International Foundation for Arts and Culture (IFAC), and Chairman for Worldwide Support for Development (WSD), delivered the opening remarks. The 7th AEF was also honored to have H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, Minister of Economy and Finance, High Representative of Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen, deliver the keynote address in the opening session.

The forum was organized by UC and co-organized by the AEF, and sponsored by Worldwide Support for Development (WSD), IFAC, Southeast Asia Television (SEATV), and The Southeast Asia Weekly (SEAW). Peter Tan Keo, Vice President for Strategy, Development and International Cooperation, served as the 7th AEF Secretary-General.

During his welcoming remarks, Dr. Kao expressed his most sincere appreciation to Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen for his continual support of the AEF and for presiding over the forum for the past six years. In addition, he expressed deep gratitude to Dr. Handa for supporting the annual forum and for his participation and contributions to the AEF for the past seven years. He also encouraged engaging and productive dialogue between the distinguished speakers and participants during the forum.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Handa argued that the 21st century is the Asian Century. He continued to say that it will be reached by 2050 given the economic prowess of certain Asian countries, especially China and India, and the population growth of Asia.

Afterward, H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon delivered the keynote address, in which he discussed ASEAN in the 21st century and said that it will emerge into a more prominent role in the upcoming years. He outlined the key achievements of ASEAN to date, in addition to discussing some challenges and opportunities for the region as it continues to move forward in sustaining development and growth. For example, he highlighted human resource development, climate change, and disaster management as challenges and recommended that prioritizing efforts and resources can help the region overcome these challenges. He also argued that ASEAN should take advantage of the opportunities to work with global leaders, including increasing connectivity with East Asian countries and creating both stronger and more Free Trade Areas.

The chairs and speakers presented expert insight on key topics for the eight plenary sessions and exchanged ideas with each other and participants. The AEF and UC were honored to have the following distinguished guests chair and speak at the 7th AEF:

Plenary Session I: The Quest for Asia’s Regional Architecture

 

Chair: H.E. Dr. Haruhisa Handa, Adviser to Samdech Techo Prime Minister, Adviser to the Royal

Government of Cambodia, Founder and Chairman of AEF, Chancellor of University of Cambodia,

President and Founder of IFAC, and Chairman for WSD

Speakers:

1. H.E. Sayakane Sisouvong, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN, ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, Republic of

Indonesia

2. H.E. Mr. Hisham Badr, Ambassador, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the Arab Republic

of Egypt to the United Nations Office and specialized institutions in Geneva

3. H.E. Ambassador Joergen Moeller, Senior Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

(ISEAS); Former Danish Ambassador to the Republic of Singapore; Adjunct Professor, Copenhagen

Business School

4. H.E. Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia; Member,

Supreme National Economic Council; Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International

Cooperation; Vice-Chairman of AEF; President, University of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of

Cambodia

Plenary Session II: Regional Peace and Security

 

Chair: H.E. Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia; Member,

Supreme National Economic Council; Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International

Cooperation; Vice-Chairman of AEF; President, University of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of

Cambodia

Speakers:

1. H.E. Pham Quang Vinh, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hanoi, Socialist Republic of

Vietnam

2. Professor Ralph Cossa, President, Pacific Forum Center for Strategic and International Studies, Honolulu,

Hawaii, USA

3. Dr. Paul Chambers, Director of Research, South East Asian Institute of Global Studies, Payap University,

Chiang Mai, Kingdom of Thailand

Plenary Session III: Food and Energy Security

 

Chair: H.E. Carol A. Rodley, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of

America, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia

Speakers:

1. H.E. Bounkeut Sangsomsak, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic

Republic

2. Dr. Mely Caballero-Anthony, Director of External Relations, ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, Republic of

Indonesia

3. Dr. Sok Hach, President, Economic Institute of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia

Plenary Session IV: Next Generation’s Views: The Voice of the Future of Asia

 

Chair: Associate Professor Katherine Marshall, Visiting Associate Professor, Georgetown University School

of Foreign Service; Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Cambodia; Former Counselor, The World

Bank, Washington DC, USA

Speakers:

1. Mr. Fuadi Pitsuwan, Associate, The Cohen Group; Adjunct Research Scholar, Georgetown University’s

Asian Studies Department

2. Ms. Mihoko Matsubara, Resident SPF Fellow, Pacific Forum CSIS

3. Mr. Timothy Stafford, Aide to Former British Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind

4. Mr. Kimlong Chheng, Economic/Commercial Specialist, Embassy of the United States, Phnom Penh,

Kingdom of Cambodia

Plenary Session V: Sustaining Asia’s Economic Recovery

Chair: Dr. Thein Swe, Professor of Economics, International Finance and

Globalization, Payap University; Former Principal Portfolio

Management Specialist, Asia Development Bank, Chiang Mai,

Kingdom of Thailand

Speakers:

1. H.E. Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Secretary of State, Ministry of

Economy and Finance; Vice-Chairman, Supreme National Economic

Council, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia

2. Dr. Faisal Ahmed, Resident Representative, International Monetary

Fund, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia

3. Dr. Juro Nakagawa, Special Advisor to Japan Promotion Center for

Advanced Technology (JPAT); President of Japan Business Intelligence

Society; Former Professor of Tokyo Keizai University, Ibaraki, Japan

4. Dr. Gordian Gaeta, Consultant Partner and Member of the

Investment Committee, Leopard Capital, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of

Cambodia

Plenary Session VI: Education, Gender Equality and Economic

Development

Chair: Associate Professor Katherine Marshall, Visiting Associate Professor,

Georgetown University School of Foreign Service; Distinguished

Visiting Professor, University of Cambodia; Former Counselor, The

World Bank, Washington DC, USA

Speakers:

1. Lok Chumteav Dr. Ing Kanthaphavy, Minister of Women’s Affairs,

Royal Government of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of

Cambodia

2. Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the

University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland

3. Mr. Putu M. Kamayana, Country Director, Cambodia Resident

Mission, Asian Development Bank, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of

Cambodia

4. Rev. Dr. Pradit Takerngrangsarit, President, Payap University, Chiang

Mai, Kingdom of Thailand

5. Dr. Greg Emery, Director, Global Leadership Center, Ohio

University, Athens, Ohio, USA

Plenary Session VII: Environment, Climate Change and Natural

Disasters

Chair: H.E. Dr. Mok Mareth, Senior Minister and Minister of Environment,

Royal Government of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia

Speakers:

1. Associate Professor Simon Tay, Chairman, Singapore Institute of

International Affairs, Republic of Singapore

2. Mr. Etienne Clement, Deputy Director, UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional

Bureau for Education, Bangkok, Kingdom of Thailand

Plenary Session VIII: Asia’s Search for Leadership Synergy

Chair: H.E. Dr. Sok Siphana, Chair of Cambodia Development Resource

Institute (CDRI) Board of Directors; Advisor to the Royal Government of

Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia

Speakers:

1. H.E. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN, Jakarta, Republic of

Indonesia

2. H.E. Rodolfo C. Severino, Head, ASEAN Studies Centre of the Institute of

Southeast Asian Studies; Former Secretary-General of ASEAN, Republic of

Singapore

3. Tan Sri Dr. Mohamed Munir bin Abdul Majid, Chairman of Malaysia Airlines

and Head of Southeast Asia Program at the Centre for International Affairs,

Diplomacy and Grand Strategy (IDEAS), London School of Economics and

Political Science, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

4. H.E. Mr. Sadasivan Premjith, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

of the Republic of Singapore, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia

5. Dr. Nguyen Van Lich, Dean of Faculty of International Economics,

Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hanoi,

Socialist Republic of Vietnam

In delivering the summary and closing remarks for the 7th AEF, Dr. Kao expressed his sincere appreciation to the distinguished speakers for engaging in productive and constructive dialogue with each other and with forum attendees, and for traveling from around the world to participate in the forum. His concluding message emphasized the need for continued cooperation and greater understanding between the different people and countries within the region and around the world.

For more information about the proceedings of the 7th AEF and presentations of the distinguished speakers, please visit the website, www.aef.org.kh.

Gender Equality Discussed at the 7th AEF

With Contributions from Dr. Angus Munro (VP for Academics)

 

People and institutions around the world have identified gender equality as an essential element in society for sustainable economic and social development. Given the diverse political, economic, and social landscape of the region and efforts aimed at development, and also to highlight the growing prominence of talented women who help to influence and shape these landscapes, the 7th Asia Economic Forum (AEF), "The Asian Century in the Making: Achievements, Challenges, and Future Trends," featured gender equality in Plenary Session VI, "Education, Gender Equality and Economic Development." A number of distinguished speakers discussed the status of gender equality in the region, including achievements made thus far and future challenges. The session was chaired by Associate Professor Katherine Marshall, Visiting Associate Professor, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service; Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Cambodia; and former Counselor, The World Bank.

Lok Chumteav Dr. Ing Kanthaphavy, Minister of Women’s Affairs, argued extensively that economic empowerment is key for achieving gender equality. She cited a statistic that women do 66 percent of the work in the world, but only earn 10 percent of total income and own 1 percent of properties. She argued that Cambodian women, who account for 50 percent of the workforce in the agricultural sector, play an important role in the sector because of their involvement in unpaid subsistence farming and caring for extended families. Moreover, Cambodian women account for 50 percent of the workforce in the industrial sector and 37 percent in the service sector, but their involvement in the labor force is concentrated at the bottom of the production chain, particularly in low paid jobs that do not require education qualifications, she said. Nevertheless, there are wage-paying opportunities for Cambodian women in the garment, tourism, and construction industries, as well as in small business enterprises, which women own 62 percent of and which represent a growing contribution to the national economy.

Her second main argument emphasized a need for girls to be able to access education at all levels in order to achieve gender equality. She argued that having greater access to education, including post-secondary education, will encourage women to be more active in the community and economy, and will prepare them to become more responsible mothers. In addition, she argued that the Education For All movement needs to be locally relevant and should help break down the digital divide and build human capacity, including women’s, in developing countries. She concluded by saying that the Cambodian government is pushing the strategy of Education For All, together with efforts to breach the digital divide, as an important component of its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

During his presentation, Putu M. Kamayana, Country Director of the Cambodia Resident Mission for Asian Development Bank, identified Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Nepal as countries that face the greatest risk in meeting the MDGs for ending poverty and hunger, reducing child malnutrition, and achieving universal primary education. He also argued that women are among the most vulnerable group affected by poverty and an economic crisis. In particular, Cambodian women have been significantly affected by the global economic crisis, he said, resulting in increased migration for work, reduced food consumption, and reduced healthcare expenditure.

Finally, he argued that institutions needed to measure equality of access to education, equality in the learning process, equality of educational outcomes, and equality of external results for women in order to promote greater gender equity. He presented research findings on investments in education and returns to the economy, including how each year of schooling increased individual output by 4 to 7 percent, and that girls experience a higher return on secondary education than boys (18 percent versus 14 percent). Finally, he identified a few areas of progress that Cambodia has made in education and training development, namely an increased total gross enrollment ratio for secondary education, and achieving gender parity in enrollments at the primary and secondary level. He also identified some challenges for Cambodia in the future. This included high secondary school dropout rates (20 percent for lower secondary and 12 percent for upper secondary), and a higher dropout rate for girls than for boys at the secondary level.

The other distinguished speakers also spoke on education and gender equality in the context of economic development. Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, argued that rapid growth has resulted in increased disparity between the rich and poor and that, despite a fair amount of progress towards achieving the MDGs, there is a need for increased female representation in high positions within ggovernments and businesses. Reverend Dr. Pradit Takerngrangsarit, President of Payap University, discussed Thailand’s efforts to achieve the MDGs and argued that gender equality has been achieved overall in the country, but that accessibility to education remains unequal. Dr. Greg Emery, Director of the Global Leadership Center at Ohio University, presented his findings from interviews with university leaders in Thailand and Vietnam. According to Dr. Emery, the university leaders expressed their belief that human capital will be improved by raising the quality of university teaching and learning, and that gender equity will improve as a result of this.

The University of Cambodia (UC) is deeply committed to promoting gender equality through access to education, quality of education, and employment opportunities. This is represented in its efforts to recruit, retain, and train qualified female students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as female instructors and staff members, even at the highest levels of management.

H.E. Dr. Haruhisa Handa: Founder and Chairman of the Asia Economic Forum

 

Seven years ago, the University of Cambodia (UC) established the Asia Economic Forum (AEF) as an independent think tank to help promote policy dialogue and greater collaboration between leading policymakers, thinkers, and institutions working to develop the Asia-Pacific region. Its primary goal is to promote sustainable development. Every year since its creation, the AEF has successfully convened an annual forum that has brought together a group of high-level government officials, policymakers, scholars, researchers, public and private sector leaders, representatives of international institutions, and representatives of civil society to participate in plenary sessions and discussions on issues pertinent to the region: economic recovery, Asia’s strategic role, regional peace and security, education, human resource development, gender equality, the environment, climate change, food and energy security, poverty, and the development gap, among many other issues.

The success of every AEF--including the 7th AEF, "The Asian Century in the Making: Achievements, Challenges, and Future Trends"--would not have been possible without the leadership, vision, commitment, and generosity of H.E. Dr. Haruhisa Handa, Founder and Chairman of AEF. He also serves as an Adviser to Samdech Techo Prime Minister, an Adviser to the Royal Government of Cambodia, Chancellor of UC, President and Founder of International Foundation for Arts and Culture (IFAC), and Chairman for Worldwide Support for Development (WSD).

In addition to his responsibilities as Chairman of the 7th AEF, which he has served for seven consecutive years, Dr. Handa also served as the Chair for Plenary Session I, "The Quest for Asia’s Regional Architecture," and was a distinguished speaker for the opening session of the 7th AEF.

Dr. Handa is not only a multi-talented and accomplished artist, scholar, businessman, and philanthropist, but also a dear friend to the University and AEF.

 

The AEF and UC extend their most sincere appreciation to Dr. Handa for his leadership and continued support of the program and sustainable development. Additionally, AEF and UC express their sincere gratitude to WSD and IFAC for providing the financial support to successfully launch the First Asia Economic Forum in 2005, and their continuing support for subsequent Fora. Finally, AEF and UC thank WSD and IFAC for supporting other activities of the AEF as well as for providing generous assistance to UC to undertake a number of community projects since 2003.

 

 

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