ASEAN Youth Fellowship Expands Program to Deepen Regional People-to-People Ties

4:54:07 PM | 10/7/2019

Last week, 39 young ASEAN Leaders gathered in Singapore to exchange ideas as well as discuss issues and opportunities to collaborate for sustainable partnerships at the second run of the ASEAN Youth Fellowship (AYF) programme organised by the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) and National Youth Council (NYC). Three Vietnamese young leaders also attended the event and shared their experiences across social and economic fields. Themed, “Partnerships for a Sustainable ASEAN, this year’s programme focused on the importance of warm people-to-people relations to ensure the social, environmental, and economic sustainability of the region.

By 2020, more than half of ASEAN’s population will be under 35 years old. This leadership development programme comprises next-generation youth leaders from public, private and people sectors (3P) who have been identified as having the potential to take on prominent leadership positions in the future and further contribute to the betterment of the region. The AYF programme aims to provide the participants with the opportunity to share experiences, build relationships and work together to establish a strong network of young ASEAN leaders who can influence positive change in the region. 

Following the success of its inaugural edition in 2018, the Singapore-based AYF programme has also expanded with an overseas component to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this year to augment exchanges and opportunities for collaboration.

The week-long programme, from 28 September to 5 October 2019, included a series of dialogues and learning journeys. The AYF participants had the chance to interact with distinguished thought leaders and political office holders including Singapore’s Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Mr Teo Chee Hean and Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Mr Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul.

Some of the activities included sharing sessions on sustainable business practices by DBS Bank and CapitaLand, and a visit to Semakau Landfill for the participants to learn about sustainable waste management in land-scarce Singapore. During the Kuala Lumpur leg from 1 to 3 October, they were hosted by Malaysian social enterprises Native and Epic Collective on a cultural learning journey with the Orang Asli community. Participants also learned about the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre’s (MaGIC) work in building a sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem in Malaysia, among other activities.

Ms Jean Tan, Executive Director of the SIF, said, "The ASEAN Youth Fellowship exemplifies the value of cross-cultural ties in a global landscape that is rapidly changing. We see emerging young ASEAN leaders as trailblazers with the potential to promote mutual understanding and synergise individual efforts for positive and sustainable impact. The SIF is proud to be a part of this meaningful programme and to contribute towards our youths’ efforts in creating a more united, cohesive, and sustainable ASEAN.”

Mr David Chua, Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Council, said, “The AYF provides a platform to forge strong youth-to-youth connections and cultivate a cross-boundary regional lens. We already see these outcomes actualised by the inaugural cohort last year. The young leaders continue to actively maintain their ties, activate their network to solve work-related issues and some even collaborated on social impact projects. The Singapore-ASEAN Youth Fund (SAYF) will support these ground-up initiatives which address important socio-economic-cultural issues for ASEAN. My hope is for AYF to continue strengthening our youth to be Asia-ready, as they work towards building a fellowship of positive impact.”

The AYF is a nomination-based leadership development programme for ASEAN youth aged 27-35 from 3P sectors. A collaboration between the SIF and NYC, the AYF is designed to empower youth leaders across ASEAN to develop a strong network of peers, and collectively take the ASEAN community forward as a strong and unified entity in today’s volatile environment.

Since the AYF’s inaugural edition in 2018, fellows have been actively contributing to strengthening relationships in the ASEAN community. In Vietnam, 2018 Fellow Harry Phan was appointed as the SIF’s Representative in Ho Chi Minh City. In this capacity, he plays a key role in supporting the SIF’s mission to connect world communities –in particular, Singapore and Vietnam—and enable collaborations through meaningful projects that effect positive change, further strengthening the friendships between people of the two countries.