Thursday, December 17, 2009

One Asia Forum

8-11 December 2009

Day 1 - 8 December 2009

Jing Hui delivered the good news that I had been nominated to attend the One Asia Forum just slightly more than a week ago. Later would I know that only 4 Singaporeans will be participating in this forum.

The One Asia Forum - Youth and Social Media: Online Collaboration and the Future of Asia is organised by the Asian Youth Council (AYC), supported by Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia, in collaboration with Malaysian Youth Council, Institute for Minds Development (INMIND) and the Committee for ASEAN Youth Cooperation (CAYC).

Hock Rong sent me off at the airport, where I met two other Singaporean delegates - Fred (Tiong Bahru CC YEC) and Lesley (Frontier CC YEC). The other delegate, Xianyang (Kovan CC YEC) took the bus.
At the arrival gates of the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in Kuala Lumpur, we were ferried by taxi to Swiss Garden Hotel, where the forum would be held for the next two days.

In the evening, the welcome dinner was held. There we interacted with delegates from other countries. There are a total of 23 countries participating in this forum, with a total strength of about 100 youths.

We forged a friendship with the Thais that would bond us together for the next few days to come.

Malay cultural performances entertained us for the evening...

as we enjoyed a sumptuous meal.

After the dinner, Singapore delegates started planning for the cultural performance item each country has to present on the closing ceremony.

Day 2 - 9 December 2009

The itinerary for the day reads "Knowledge Sharing". Guest speakers from various countries talked about various dimensions of social media. The session began with a briefing on Malaysia's Information Communication Technology (ICT) presented by a government official from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI). On route to Vision 2020, the 9th Malaysia Plan would conclude in 2010. The 10th Malaysia Plan would focus on infrastructure, content development, industry development and access to markets.

Prof Jakarin Srimoon, Executive Director of The Southeast Asia - Latin America and Carribean (SEA-LAC) Trade Center, University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce (UTCC) spoke on the power of social media. Social Media has overtaken pornography as the #1 activity on the Web. Using SEA-LAC as a reference, Prof Jakarin talked about how to get our organisations to embark on social media and how SEA-LAC uses social media to engage its members.

Mohd Fauzi Shafie, lecturer from the Faculty of Management, Multimedia University Cyberjaya, spoke on "Social Marketing using Social Media". Defining social media as a channel and not a strategy or a tactic, he talked about the reasons behind the popularity of social media and the benefits of social media. I particularly like the part where he mentioned that in social media, it's the Return on Influence instead of Return on Investment that counts. A weak person can have high influence on the world if he knows how to.

Reza Razali, Managing Director of Terato Tech Sdn. Bhd., covered "Social Media Applications". His advice is avoid clutter and focus on one platform instead of diversifying into too many infrequently updated platforms.

Hazel Hassan Hisham, Marketing and Communications Manager of Asia Pacific Region F-Secure Corporation, talked about the emerging trends in social media. Facebook is the #9 most popular brand online, with users spending an average of 3 hours and 10 min per person per day. This is more time spent on Facebook than email, and the highest average time per person amongst the 75 most popular brands online worldwide. Hazel also shared how social media can support our businesses and used F-Secure as a case study.

Karsten Wenzlaff, Social Media Manager from Germany, spoke about "Social Media in Europe: Collaboration, Cooperation and Participation". This was a very fruitful topic since it's the only one out of Asia and there are many learning points from his discussion.

Roshidul Hasan, President of Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) International Student Association, spoke on "Rural Youth and Social Media: Engaging Rural Youth to Build Digital Generation". Bringing everyone back to reality, Roshidul urges participants to work towards bridging the digital divide and extending social media technologies to the rural parts of Asia.

Dato' Fuad Hassan, Director General, Department of Special Affairs, Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture Malaysia, summed up the session with "Let's Connect and Build One Asia!"

The Opening Ceremony was held in between the sessions. It was graced by Dr Puad Zakashi, Deputy Minister of Education Malaysia.

The gong was sounded to signify the opening of One Asia Forum 2009.

We were proud to meet Jackie, PAYM Central Youth Council member, Treasurer of AYC & Deputy Chairman of CAYC. He shared his experiences in international forums and also introduced us to various AYC members.

A photo with Mr Moammar Mutahar Mohamed Al-Eryani, Yemen's Deputy Minister, Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports, also the Vice-President of Asian Youth Council & Yemen friends

One Asia!

3 participants were selected to be interviewed on Metro TV.
As soon as the Knowledge Sharing sessions ended, we changed to our casual attire and headed out to the streets with our Thai friends.

Malaysia flags were proudly hung everywhere. Many organisations also show their support for Malaysian Premier Najib Razak's call for One Malaysia by displaying the icon on their buildings.

This is my first time at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC). I had always seen it from a distance and finally I'm up and close to this twin towers. The night view is breath-taking.

Some of us thought that KLCC resembles Suntec City, for instance the logo and the fountains...

We had our nostalgic A&W for dinner.

Back at the hotel, we rehearsed our cultural performance item until late night, ensuring that it would be a spectacular performance. Laughters rocked the room from time to time. Like what Fred said, we have the "Chemistry". We managed to think of a skit (that humoured ourselves so much that Lesley says too much laughter will hurt the heart) and perfected it within just a few hours. Xianyang was so committed to the skit that he lost his voice!

Day 3 - 10 December 2009

We have to literally drag ourselves up in the morning, with just 4-5 hours of rest.

The "Youth Speak!" sessions for the day were moderated by Dr. Turiman Suandi, Professional Development and Continuing Education Department, UPM Malaysia.

As an ice-breaker, Dr. Turiman asked everyone to draw his/her portrait using the non-master hand, and pen down our wishes for Asia. We then presented our drawings to our peers.

Delegates from the Phillipines, Republic of Korea and Indonesia shared some of the social media intiatives in their countries and organisations.

We then broke up into groups and brainstormed ideas on how to accomplish One Asia with social media. Each group would be given USD300 as a grant to kickstart the project. Xianyang is a genius to think of "Youth-nited" (that's so PAYM!) as a theme.

With friends from Indonesia:

With friend from Mongolia:

With friend from Yemen:

I felt that the participants are all very warm and friendly. The forum provided a wonderful opportunity by uniting youths from so many different countries.

There was a 3-hour break before the Closing Ceremony, so the Singapore team hit out onto the streets again to explore KL. After Sungei Wang, we saw a Lok Lok van!

Participants turned up in their countries' traditional costumes. It was candy to the eye to see all the different costumes that our friends are wearing. In other words, you can call it "Culture Shock".

Korea and Vietnam:
Wael, from Yemen, dons a dagger at his waist. Karina, from the Phillipines, with the elegant umbrella.

Sara, from Vietnam, and currently working in Singapore.

Before the dinner commenced, one by one we received our certificate of participation from AYC President Dato' Seri Dr. Mohamad Khir Bin Toyo.

Dinner was served just before our cultural performance items.

Most of the participants sang native songs and performed native dances. Singapore does not have a rich culture, but we were determined to show to our counterparts that Singapore is an interesting place to visit. As such, we performed a skit that narrated the experience of a first-time tourist to Singapore.

This is Fred driving the aeroplane with our tourist Lesley Marry Brown as his passenger, in front of the Changi Airport.

"Congratulations for being the 1 billionth visitor to Singapore! You win yourself a very special tour package."

And then, we talked about National Service (with Xianyang and Fred performing the Water Parade drill), Kallang Wave (where Xianyang lost his voice shouting), the Merlion, the "Fine" city and the Great Singapore workout!

Participants, including the AYC members, stood up and joined us in our Great Singapore Workout! Concluding our skit, we called for everyone to join us in our Youth Olympics Game 2010 in Singapore!

As soon as we completed our skit, we dashed off to send Xianyang to the bus terminal.

Fred, Lesley and I managed to be back at the hotel in time to see our Thai friends performing the Loy Krathong dance. We also joined our Vietnam friends by dancing on stage with them. Other performances include the Nobody dance by our Korean friends, Bangladeshi song by Roshidul, etc.

As the night gets darker, the temperature just gets hotter. After the closing ceremony ended, the stage was turned into a mini-club. Some of us rocked and danced like there's no tomorrow.

After the party ends, the Thais, Koreans, Jordanian, Singaporeans, Filipino congregated at Fred's room for chit-chatting...

Day 4 - 11 December 2009

After breakfast, Fred and Lesley departed to Malacca for the World Assembly of Youth (WAY) 60th Anniversary Celebrations while I stayed for the Asian Youth Council Annual General Assembly.

Thanks to Jackie, I had the privilege to experience what an AYC general assembly is like. Like he said, the AYC meeting is like a bigger version of the YEC meeting. True enough, the proceedings are very similar.

Members presented their activities for year 2010. They include the Indian Committee of Youth Organisations, Yemen Youth General Union, All-China Youth Federation, National Council of Youth Organisation in Korea (NCYOK) and Malaysian Youth Council.

The AYC is a non-governmental, youth-serving, regional organisation formed in 14 August 1972 to promote solidarity and family spirit among young people in Asia as well as to strengthen national youth organisations in the region. AYC is a member of the WAY, and is in consultative status with the United Nations Economics and Social Commission (ECOSOCS)

National youth councils in Asian nations shall be eligible for membership of the AYC if they are recognised by the national Governments as umbrella bodies for youth organisations in their countries, and if they are voluntary and have as their main purpose the promotion of youth interests and development. Only one member organisation shall be admitted from each country.

The People's Association Youth Movement represents Singapore in the AYC.

During a tea break, a Cambodian friend told me that youths in his country compete for the ASEAN scholarship that is sponsored by the Singapore Government because of its prestige, and the possibility of leading a better life.

After the AYC meeting, we were then ferried by coach to Malacca to join the WAY 60th Anniversary Celebrations.

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