Call to sustain confidence and hope for Asia’s youth

HIS Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, yesterday called on the Asian Cooperation Dialogue members to find a way to “sustain” the confidence and hope for the youth of Asia who may find today’s world deeply discouraging.

His Royal Highness delivered a statement at the 11th Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Ministerial Meeting in Dushanbe, Republic of Tajikistan.

His Royal Highness attended the opening ceremony at the Kohi Somon Government Residence in Dushanbe.

Following an inaugural address by Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon, the meeting was chaired by Hamrohon Zarifi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan.

His Royal Highness also delivered the statement on the theme of the dialogue “Towards Economic Growth, Stability and Prosperity in Asia through Sustainable Development”.

“Across our continent, there are now over a billion children under 15 years old. Current international statistics suggest that they face a very difficult future. According to some estimates, up to 20 per cent of them could be unemployed, perhaps permanently.

“That, in itself, is a worrying figure but what is even more disturbing is a statement by the International Labour Organisation which says that there is a new special category for many of our young people.

“It represents those who are described as ‘too discouraged’ to seek work,” said His Royal Highness, adding that it was because they have lost hope.

His Royal Highness saw this as a prescription for lasting social unrest and instability.

“It is why we welcome the concept paper presented here. We appreciate its clear summary of all the current challenges. It is also why we are pleased by the emphasis our theme places on ‘sustainability’.

“It could mean that our dialogue needs to evolve. That is why we express our great appreciation to His Highness the Amir of the State of Kuwait for the far-reaching ideas he presented at last year’s summit.

“It is also why we thank our hosts today, the Government and People of Tajikistan, the Kingdom of Bahrain, who will be hosting our next ministerial gathering and the Kingdom of Thailand for undertaking to host the 2015 summit.

“Each is offering inspiration to our people and we believe that this is the most important responsibility of the ACD.

“As I said, it is a complex process and, in Brunei Darussalam, we will be pleased to offer our support in whatever way we can.”

Earlier in his speech His Royal Highness said at first sight the name ‘ACD’ looked like three simple words: ‘Asia’ for our identity; ‘Cooperation’ for the purpose of our meeting; and, ‘Dialogue’ for the method we use.

“However, there is little that is simple about any of these words. Put together, they form a very complex process. It is driven by new ideas, fresh understandings and a common feeling of togetherness and goodwill.

“The result, we hope, will inspire our people and give them a feeling of confidence in the future. I mention this because that hope is now being severely tested by reality.

“That reality is represented by the international financial and economic situation. It poses extremely complex challenges, especially to the young people we represent.”

His Royal Highness last evening attended a dinner hosted by the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan in honour of the visiting ACD delegations. - Borneo Bulletin (30 March 2013)