Cambodians were among 40 Asean “youth leaders” who gathered in Singapore recently to exchange ideas and discuss emerging issues in innovation, including in areas as diverse as healthcare, infrastructure and social impact.
The youth leaders were attending the inaugural Asean Youth Fellowship (AYF) programme organised by the National Youth Council (NYC) and the Singapore International Foundation (SIF). The event ran for six days from November 10 to 15.
By the year 2020, more than half of Asean’s population will be under 35 years old. To help the bloc reach its full potential, the programme aims to give youth leaders across the region the opportunity to share experiences.
The “influencers” and “change-makers” in their communities will also build relationships and be part of efforts to establish a strong network of young Asean leaders who can influence positive change in the region.
Supported by the Singapore-Asean Youth Fund (SAYF), the AYF is built on the values of “resilience, leadership and comradery” in line with the Singapore Asean chairmanship’s focus on building a “resilient and innovative” Asean to deal with the increasingly complex geopolitical landscape and the digital revolution.
Deth Sok Udom, Rector of Paragon International University (formerly Zaman University), representing Cambodia at the AYF, said that throughout the programme, visits to companies such as Facebook, Grab and Singtel provided the fellows with interesting insights about the use of big data analytics, artificial intelligence, and other aspects related to the “Industry 4.0” revolution.
“We also had the opportunity to meet with senior ministers and leaders of various public institutions in Singapore, such as the Urban Redevelopment Authority,” he said.
“The programme has allowed us to get to know other young leaders from the same country, who may have not have known each other before, as well as leaders from other countries who work on similar projects or issues."
“This is especially important as it truly encourages me to shape our curricula at our university to ensure that our students can meet the market demand amid these technological trends,” Sok Udom said.
David Chua, CEO of the NYC, said: “This collaboration marks a start towards building a strong regional network of youth leaders and paving the way for a more innovative and resilient Asean.
“Together, we can support our young leaders in Asean to take the region forward as a strong and united community.”
Hour Tola is a member of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia who was selected to participate in the programme. He said all the youths realised that they are key to the development plans at the Asean level and an important channel of development.
“All the participants are committed to working together on the common principles of Asean. As a representative of Cambodian youth who joined [his Asean counterparts], we have demonstrated the [importance] of participating together in regional events."
“And most importantly, we realise that coming together to develop our country, in my case Cambodia, is something that gives us national pride too,” Tola said.