Speech by Mr S Iswaran, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Education, at the Closing Ceremony of the 2010 Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit on Wednesday, 28 July 2010, at 6.30 pm at Conrad Centennial Singapore

Mr Jonathan Lee,
Chairman, Board of Directors,

Mr Desmond Ong,
Chairman, Board of Governors,

Dr Hon Chiew Weng,
Principal, Hwa Chong Institution,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening.

I am pleased to join you here to celebrate the success of the 2010 Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit as it draws to a close.

This is the fourth year that Hwa Chong Institution has organised this Summit. Despite the hiatus last year due to the Influenza A(H1N1) pandemic, the Summit has yet again grown in reach and impact. It began with just six participating countries in 2006. Today, the more than 200 delegates hail from countries in the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and North America. Given the rich diversity of nationalities represented here, I am quite sure that you would have enjoyed the opportunity to engage your fellow delegates, and gained fresh perspectives on global affairs.

From Crisis to Opportunity

A recurrent theme of this Summit was the new levels of integration and interdependence that underpin the world’s efforts to surmount challenges. These events might have receded in our memory, although they made the headlines just last year. For example, the mystery that once shrouded the Influenza A(H1N1) virus was unravelled by the concerted efforts of countries from all over the world and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Over 200 countries provided WHO with updates and support in laboratory testing. Today, the panic that gripped populations is a part of our collective history, and the Influenza A(H1N1) vaccine is now widely available.

Yet another example is that of the global community evolving new mechanisms to deal with the financial crisis precipitated by the collapse in 2008 of US investment banks like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. With global and regional institutions such as the IMF, EU and ASEAN coordinating efforts to sustain recovery and respond to new threats, we are now emerging from the downturn with rising consumer and business confidence. The Global Citizen

These and other challenges of our times epitomise the importance and value of the paradigm of a global citizen – where individuals and countries see success as a function of collaboration and mutual aid, rather than competition and conquest. We increasingly witness globally coordinated efforts to tackle problems that affect us all, be they environmental, economic or humanitarian.

Even as individuals come together to safeguard their national or community interest, it is imperative that they also espouse a heightened sense of their role within, and obligation to, a wider global community beyond their borders. Your generation and those that come after you need to fulfil your responsibilities as global citizens. You are entering a highly interconnected global economy with global careers, education and enterprises. You can freely partake of these opportunities – the world is indeed your oyster. Equally, you must collectively shoulder the responsibility of sustaining our fragile world and influencing the development of world affairs.

To exploit the promises and overcome the risks of a global village, we need to appreciate the reality that interdependence must straddle vast differences in cultures, worldviews and identities. Hence, the need for individuals to interact, engage and evolve shared perspectives that can form the foundation of a global community.

The Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit strives to achieve precisely this objective. At this Summit, delegates are exposed to a plurality of viewpoints and gain a new global perspective. They also learn to respect and value diversity. In short, the delegates become better informed global citizens and are poised to become leaders of the future. I urge you to apply your knowledge with passion in aid of our collective future and, to use Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “be the change you want to see in the world”.

A Journey of Discovery and Personal Growth

I am sure that this has been an exciting journey of discovery and personal growth for all of you. You have actively participated in activities and in dialogues, either with top civil servants in the country or with peers from different parts of the world. And, as this Summit draws to a close, I trust that you will part with precious memories and new friendships which will stand you in good stead for the future.


I congratulate Hwa Chong Institution and its partners on another successful Summit. And, I urge all delegates to do your best in sustaining the many achievements at the Summit and in remaining engaged in the global dialogue. I wish you all the very best. Thank you.