ASEAN Youth Volunteer Program. Kuala Lumpur 25 July 2018
Speech by Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, YB Steven Sim Chee Keong, Member of Parliament for Bukit Mertajam
Welcome everyone to the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Program.
Malaysia is honoured at the privilege to host our friends from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. We hope you would see more of our beautiful country during your stay, and to greet all of you here in our national language, Selamat Datang ke Malaysia.
I would like to take the opportunity to say that the Ministry of Youth and Sports, along with the ASEAN Secretariat and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, is proud to support this program.
What I find interesting about the program is the opportunity offered to participants to engage with their host community. I understand that the third and fourth week of the program would see participants engaging with the community at Kilim Village, Kilim Geoforest Park.
The ASEAN Youth Volunteer Program is a leading platform offering opportunities for youths in ASEAN countries to develop innovative solutions to social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges in the ASEAN community.
The society need to change our idea about age from a 20th century understanding of age to a 21st century understanding of age. My youth was in the 20th century. At that time, when we were 16 years old, we were still kids. At 26 we were just starting in our career.
In this century now at 16 some of you have travelled to more countries than I had, launched million-dollar startups, broken records in all sorts of fields. By 26 years old, you can already be a federal Minister.
This is our century my young friends. And this is also our opportunity. What the “older folks” cannot resolve, whether in our country, or in our precious ASEAN region, I pray that we as young people will rise up to be the solutions to the problems facing our society.
Let this youthful century be a century we eliminate corruption, uphold and expand democracy, restore peace, promote progress and progressive values, and protect our environment.
Which is why this government is committed to reduce voting age to 18, in line with some of our ASEAN neighbours, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines. We want to give real power to Malaysian youth be be agents of change in this country.
The spirit of volunteerism is not a new thing, but I am afraid it is dwindling today. Society is obsessed with paper-chase, whether we are chasing papers – academic degree, money – or we are chased by papers
- our loans and mortgages. We do not have time for volunteerism. Because our time is limited, the operative question becomes, “what is it in for me?” when we make decisions to embark on a certain activity.
But volunteerism is a deeply entrenched value in our society, here in Malaysia and I am convinced in our ASEAN neighbours. Malaysians and Indonesians are very familiar with the concept of gotong-royong, the word meaning “working together”. The idea of gotong royong is tightly-linked to the idea of volunteerism. One sacrifices one’s time and effort for common good. And because everyone chips in, big problems become small, difficult tasks become easy.
Hence, I am proud that our youth is leading the way to carry this torch of volunteerism.
Our young life must never be defined merely by how many academic degrees we posses, or how much money we have in our bank, or how many startups we launch.
No, I hope your life will also be about how many sunrises and sunsets you see in different places in this beautiful world, how many lives you have impacted because you chose to love and not hate, and along the way how many friends you have made.