The 21st century is often regarded as the Asian century with the Asian economies producing almost 40% of the global GDP - a figure set to rise with the emerging economies of India and Malaysia - while China and Japan follow closely behind US as the world's second and third largest economies. To reap the huge benefits of economic co-operation, Singapore has been intensifying its efforts to build strong ties with these Asian giants.
From 17 to 28 July 2006, HCI organised the inaugural Hwa Chong Asian Young Leaders Summit (HC-AYLS). The Summit took the form of a forum for promising Asian student leaders who clearly demonstrated a commitment to serving society. The project was initiated by the invitation of the most outstanding young leaders from China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.
The HC-APYLS Logo
As the word 'summit' suggests, HC-APYLS aspires to provide a platform for the best young minds of the Asia-Pacific region to discuss issues pertinent to the region today. This pinnacle of Asian youth is embodied by the symbol of an upright triangle - grounded by a wide and firm base, and peaking at the top to chart a direction for the future.
The individual triangles represent the gathering of young leaders of diverse ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds, as marked by the different shades of the same colour scheme. All these are freely stacked to form the silhouette of a mountain, representing how leaders across the continent can build on each other's strengths to surmount common problems.
As a triangle always has a point that indicates an upward direction, the unity of these different nations despite their differences is reflected in how the triangles that make up the mountain ultimately point toward the same goal.
HC-APYLS 2017 Summit Theme: Connecting the Dots of an Uncertain Future
“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.”
- John Allen Paulos
The last decade of the Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit (HC-APYLS) has allowed generations of young leaders from across the globe to convene with their stories, experiences and aspirations for the future. From considering how to navigate a world with simultaneously porous and impenetrable borders, to engaging our disparate communities in their respective struggles for change, the Summit once more offers the opportunity to bring openness, mettle and hope to the global youth conversation.
Such a conversation is arguably more urgent and relevant today than ever before. Within the past year, political and social forces have morphed our world into one beyond recognition. 2016 has seen our societies around the world become arguably more divided, with fissures erupting along lines of race, religion, politics and socioeconomic class. Most notably, we have seen leading superpowers polarised by Brexit and the US Presidency. In addition, crises of globalisation, immigration, terrorism and the environment continue to illuminate the fragility of cooperation and interdependence. Values we once hailed as universal such as tolerance, sensitivity, respect and cooperation, have suffered the incursions of hatred and suspicion. Self-interest and bigotry have threatened our ambition and resolve on global issues like climate change and the migrant crisis. Nations increasingly find themselves juggling their national interests with their obligations to the larger international community; locally, individuals struggle, vacillating between liberalism and conservatism, rationality and irrationality. With the age-old global orders that we have grown accustomed to suddenly being uprooted, the gaping holes left behind have accentuated our world’s many vulnerabilities and threaten to undermine the progresses made to date.
At a time when the acronym “VUCA” (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) is commonly used to describe the world we live in, both the young and old have begun finding themselves wrestling with growing doubt and disquiet. Fed lately on a diet of polarising, confusing, and disheartening world events, much more seems unclear and more complex than we remember. Uncertainty, it seems, is our only certainty.
However, even as we march towards a future that may seem completely unpredictable, that does not mean that we must necessarily resign to our “fate” and succumb to forces beyond our control. Rather, if history has taught us anything, it is that we have always found strength from our innate transformative potential as a species. Remembering that as individuals and communities we have always succeeded in robustly steeling ourselves, especially in the face of flux and doubt, is an important start.
Hence, no matter how turbulent the times, we have to believe that mankind will once again prove its ability to not only adapt, but also take charge of whatever might lie ahead. The 11th HC-APYLS, in gathering the brightest young minds from countries all over the world, will offer this much needed insight and introspection to reinvigorate and counterbalance what sometimes feels like an increasingly disoriented global community.
Through understanding different perspectives and exchanging ideas, participants at the 11th HC-APYLS, will reach a better understanding of global challenges and opportunities to confidently prepare us for what lies ahead. In connecting the dots, together we will dance on the edge of exciting times and chart the constellations to light the path towards what the future holds.