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.
Summit Theme - Ignite: Rekindling Our Dreams
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Past iterations of the Hwa Chong Asia-Pacific Young Leaders Summit (HC-APYLS) have allowed delegates from participating countries around the world to exchange their views, renew their perspectives and broaden their horizons. From visiting key governmental institutions to engaging in dialogues on pertinent issues such as cybersecurity and economic challenges and transformation, delegates have had the privilege to hear and experience the stories of individuals from diverse walks of life, expanding their horizons on matters of global significance.
In an increasingly polarised world, such a conversation is arguably more important than ever. The world has been awash with change - not only in geopolitical landscapes, but in long-held attitudes as well. Recent issues of interest include the rise of geopolitical tensions and nuclearisation across the Korean Peninsula, disputes in the South China Sea and the abrogation of environmental accords. At the same time, the leakage of the Paradise Papers is one of many incidents that has exacerbated global disillusionment towards institutions of authority. Elsewhere, economies are wracked by debt, societies are divided by rising inequalities, with racial and political fissures erupting. Meanwhile, as technology develops faster than we can cope, job automation threatens to polarise our labour market between high and low skilled labour and shakeup the nature of work itself.
The world around us is shaped by our own preconceptions and realities. Fundamental issues such as vaccination and climate change remain issues of contestation, driven by a shrinking tolerance for the coexistence of diverging beliefs. Mankind is often still trapped within pre-existing conceptions of the world, unwilling to engage in discourse and seek common ground between dissenting ideas on issues such as stem cell research, embracing diversity and promoting free trade. In a world where there are individuals increasingly gravitating along lines of socio-economic and cultural similarities, it is important to realise the dangers of being enclosed within our own bubbles of truth, especially in the age of social media where echo chambers threaten to exacerbate our own confirmation biases. As young leaders, we should keep an open mind, constantly reflect, challenge our perceived realities and learn to stand in the shoes of others when discussing global issues.
Undeniably, humanity has proven time and again that a united body is stronger than the forces that tear it apart, especially in the face of adversity. Natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, and incidents of terrorism such as the Paris Attacks of 2015 and the recent shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High have brought people together in solidarity to fight for change. In the history of mankind, individuals who care to make a difference to humanity like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi have also stood testament to the fact that in periods of instability and uncertainty, visionary leaders are capable of rising up to the challenge and championing their causes amidst adversity. Similarly, we, as future leaders, should rekindle this same passion and be strong advocates for positive change we wish to see in our world. We can do so by developing a heart of compassion, keeping our feet firmly on the ground and not losing sight of the vision, just like those who have sought to better the world and with it, created ripples of positive change across continents which can still be felt today.
As participants in the 12th HC-APYLS, we stand a chance to share our aspirations for the world through discussing contentious issues and reconciling our differing views in the process. The time for change is now, so let us endeavour to be torchbearers and agents of change, as we seize the opportunities to make a positive difference to the world. Ultimately, standing on the cusp of change has never been comfortable, but to disagree, yet never be disagreeable, would be apt advice in today's increasingly polarised world. Reconciling differences will never be easy, but it will be needed to build trust and chart the onward path of progress. The 12th HC-APYLS provides a platform for young global leaders to share their hopes, appreciate diversity and push the boundaries of their aspirations. It empowers delegates to reimagine the infinite possibilities that lie ahead of us and rekindle the dreams within us for our communities and world. Importantly, it allows delegates to build trust and seek common ground, and propel mankind into a brighter future together.