Introducing the ASEAN Economic Forum

Today, we are proud to officially launch the ASEAN Economic Forum, a major initiative under Aseanite Group to bring people together to tackle the challenges facing our region and how we can address them. We humbly hope that AEF would provide a unique platform for collaborative efforts to stimulate economic growth, employment and public-private partnerships in our region.

Since our foundation, Aseanite has had the humble opportunity to work with regional leaders from influential organizations such as McKinsey, Nomura, Bain, Maybank, WTO, IMF, ADB, CIMB, UK ASEAN Business Council, Bank of Thailand, Visa and many more. We hope that through the establishment of AEF, we can continue to facilitate strong regional partnerships of community organizations, businesses, and academia to push forward ASEAN’s regional development agenda and ultimately, helping us in our aim to build and bridge social capital in ASEAN.

Despite all the big talk coming from this random guy on the Internet, I truly believe what makes AEF special is the fact that the whole setup is led by a group of young people, unlike our big brothers such as the World Economic Forum or the Global Economic Symposium, led by the fine wines armed with PhD’s and 30-40 years of experience.

We believe that with more than 65% of the ASEAN population dominated by the younger generation, ASEAN youths should be leading the way to a stronger commitment within the ASEAN community, as any reforms introduced will affect us the most. The youth must unite under a common goal to push and take responsibility for the changes they want to see in ASEAN. This is exactly why we believe that it is essential for AEF to be a youth-driven establishment – to ensure that our voices and demands are heard. Although we are no Klaus Schwab or Joseph Stiglitz, we hope to compensate what we lack with high levels of commitment, passion and work ethic to serve the people of Southeast Asia better.

However, being young means we have our own limitations and at times we are prone to make mistakes. Hence, AEF will be guided and advised by a select group of senior advisors, who will bring with them knowledge and insight on ASEAN. To achieve our mission, we must be able to work across generations, especially with senior leaders who can provide us with the advice and direction needed to craft the right ASEAN agenda for everyone. Plus, a great deal of knowledge is passed in both directions when young people and seniors come together. After all, young men know the rules, but the old man know the exceptions.

As we move forward, please do watch over us kindly and carefully. We might make mistakes, but our intentions are never wrong. It is how we correct our mistakes and move forward that define us. We do not claim ourselves to be the ‘future leaders of the region or country’ like most youth organizations do nowadays (please let me know if any of our colleagues does this), but we want to create more of them. What we simply do is to sacrifice our time to fight for a cause that is close to our hearts and bring people together in this journey to realize how a unified Southeast Asia can greatly benefit them too.

We are currently experiencing nationalistic, isolationist trends across the globe, with our neighbors being blamed for all kinds of reasons, including for being a threat to national security and well, for us its mostly the haze. But lets not forget that ASEAN was founded by a group of small friends trying to make it big in this world. Hence, bounded together by the ties of friendship and goodwill of our nations, we must protect this thing of ours. You might have heard this quote before ‘if you love something, set it free’ but I disagree. It seems to me that if you really love something, setting it free is exactly what you don’t want to do. You just don’t let go.

In conjunction with today’s official launch, we are proud to announce that AEF will be heading an initiative – a comprehensive development roadmap towards ASEAN 2067. ASEAN 2067 is an inclusive initiative to increase awareness on ASEAN and to get Aseanites to shape how their dream ASEAN would look like in 2067. This long-term initiative will be carried out in 5 phases over the span of 5 decades, to ensure that we can come up with structured and practical solutions that can be implemented accordingly.

To the establishment, AEF’s message is clear: take seriously what the people have to say about their futures. And to the youth yearning for change, we pose a challenge: get involved and make your mark. We look forward to working with each and every one of you, in our journey to advance the region together.

With thanks,

Razin Rozman

Leading a family of great people in Aseanite & AEF

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