2013 Asia Pacific Round Table
Under the theme of “The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Asia Pacific Visions”, the 2013 Asia Pacific Round Table was successfully held at the Ambassador Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 29 to December 2, 2013. A total of 47 delegates from 18 countries attended the meeting. Countries represented were: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Fiji, Guam, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Palau, Philippine, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, the United States of America and Vietnam.
The Bangkok round table was opened in the morning of November 30 under the chairmanship of Dr. Tai Wan-chin, the Vice President of the Tamkang University in Taipei. The session was co-chaired by Dr. Dusit Puathasnanon, acting chairman of the APLFD Thailand Chapter.
The Opening was opened with an introduction of the participants, presided over by the Master of Ceremony, Mr. Lin Kon Sien, who was the Co-Host of the 2012 Asia Pacific Round Table, and is the Chairman of the Association of Taiwan Business in Brunei.
Keynote Speaker at the Opening was Mr. Seng Hkum, who is an Advisor on International Project Management of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Mr. Seng Hkum is a rural development expert, and has been working with international agencies and financial institutions, such as the United Nations, Asian Development Bank and the World Bank in the past 25 years. He was honored with a Good Service Performance Award by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Laos. In his keynote speech, Mr. Seng Hkum shared his thoughts with the audience regarding the developments in those almost forgotten rural area in the Mekong area, which is essential for the prosperity of this region.
Other Speakers at the Opening also included : Senator Wicharn Sirichai-Ekawat of Thailand, who is the Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture of the Senate; Congressman Lucio Ngiraiwet of Palau, who is the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House; Mr. Henry Chen, Representative of the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in Thailand.
Following the Opening, the Session One was held under the chairmanship of Mr. John Wood, the CEO of the Auckland Institute of Studies of New Zealand. Speakers at Session 1 were: Mr. Philip Smyth a human right lawyer from Australia, who has been an advisor for President Jose Ramos Horta of East Timor; and Mr. Chayapat Wareenil, a Researcher at the Thammasat University of Thailand; and Professor Yujen Chou of the National Taipei University in Taiwan.
In his speech, Mr. Smyth expressed his concerns about Asian immigrants in Australia; while Mr. Wareenil spoke about the importance of Free Trade Agreement and regional economic development. And Professor Chou pointed out that Taiwan should has a role in RCEP, which would be very helpful for regional economic development.
Session Two was chaired by Mr. Flavian Carlos of Palau, who is a former Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of the Palau Congress. Speakers at Session 2 were: Mr. Hemendra Nagin, Chairman of the APLFD Fiji Chapter; and Dr. Maung Zarni, a Senior Fellow of the Malaya University in Malaysia.
Mr. Nagin, a leading lawyer in Fiji, expressed the view points of the island people on their concerns regarding the regional development, particularly when their allied neighbours, Australia and New Zealand, has an active participation in the RCEP. And Dr. Zarni concluded the session in reminding the audience that Asia is diversified in its culture and race, and a fair democratic institution is the only way to keep prosperity ever lasting. He urged all Asians to speak with a free mind. That is the only way to gain justice and democracy, Dr. Zarni said.
Session 2 was followed by the Conclusion Session chaired by Dr. Tai Wan-chin, the Vice President of the Tamkang University in Taipei. The session was co-chaired by Mr. Jen Lomethong, Chairman of the APLFD Myanmar Chapter.
Guest Speakers at the Conclusion were : General Charan Kullavanijaya, a former Secretary General of the Security Council of Thailand; and Dato Mohammed Najeeb bin Abdullah, a former Senator of Malaysia.
In his speech, General Charan recalled his first association with the APLFD when the League has its annual conference in Bangkok in 1992. Time flies but true friendship always reminds unchanged, said General Charan.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Jen Lomethong of Myanmar, pointed out that peace is the key for a true regional prosperity. He urged sympathy and understandings among the peoples of Asia. Finally, Dr. Tai Wan-chin of Taiwan concluded the meeting with an appreciation for the participants in producing a fruitful and successful meeting.
On December 1, an APLFD Forum was held. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Tai Wan-chin, the APLFD Deputy Secretary General. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Simon Hu, the Chairman of APLFD Membership Committee.
At the meeting which was presided over by Mr. Simon Hu, country reports were presented by delegates from Brunei, Cambodia, Fiji, Guam, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Palau, Philippine, Singapore, Taiwan (ROC), Thailand, and Vietnam. The country reports showed a picture that there are still some urgent social and political issues that needed to be addressed while Asia Pacific is becoming a world economic center.
All in all, we would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Jen Lomethong, the Chairman of the APLFD Myanmar, for his kind assistance to help us to organize a smooth and successful round table meeting in Bangkok. It was under Jen’s efforts that we could have Mr. Seng Hkum to join our meeting as a Key-Note Speaker. Mr. Seng Hkum is the first ranking official from a governmental international organization ever to speak at the APLFD meeting since 1980.