Youth Perspectives on the ASEAN Community

Youth Perspectives on the ASEAN Community
Chhay Daroth (UCSS)

The voice of ASEAN youth had a chance to present their perspectives on the priorities and challenges of ASEAN at a meeting which was attended by many high-ranking officials, scholars, leaders and others from the region and around the world.

This opportunity was given at the Eighth Asia Economic Forum, on the theme of “ASEAN in the Evolving Regional Architecture: Opportunities, Challenges and Future Direction”, organised by the University of Cambodia (UC) and held at Hotel Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra from March 17-18, 2012. Then, four young leaders were invited speakers in Plenary Session IV, “The Voice of ASEAN Youth: ASEAN’s priorities and Challenges”, chaired by Dr. Pradit Takerngrangsarit, President of Payap University.

Mr. Chheng Kimlong (Economic and Commercial Specialist at the Embassy of the United States of America in Phnom Penh; a part-time faculty in UC’s College of Management) identified three priorities: youth engagement and reengagement; the need for a plan for investment in youth employment; and establishing an ASEAN youth community. ASEAN leaders need to inspire youth and encourage them to exert their energies and talents towards ends which benefit society at large. Thus there is the need to address poverty; the traditional role of rural youth and those from poor urban communities as breadwinners; and the temptation of crime:. There is the need to reverse the rising information access gaps and digital divides, which result in a bias towards urban, more developed regions for growth and personal development, thereby exacerbating opportunity gaps.

Mr. Nguyen Duc Tuyen, a Research Fellow at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, reviewed a key principle underlying ASEAN: that of of non-inter-ference, meaning that all sovereign states are equal and cannot interfere in each other's internal matters. He argued that applying this principle has been flexible, with some interventions by ASEAN members in the internal affairs of others.

Mr. Sothea Oum, an Associate Resear-cher at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia in Jakarta Indonesia, turned to the ASEAN Economic Community. He identified the various goals to this end, and the necessary domestic and regional initiatives and mecha-nisms which are required to achieve this end.

Miss Vong Socheata (Democracy and Governance Specialist at U.S. Agency for International Development in Phnom Penh; a UC graduate) discussed about the role of USAID in promoting youth civic and political participation in Cambodia, and how this is being further enhanced by technology advances, including the social media, which promote communication and discussion.