Link between ASEAN identity, youth missing

National 2 minutes, 51 seconds


THE lack of connection between ASEAN identity and youth in the community is one of the issues highlighted in the 12th ASEAN Leadership Forum held recently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Khairunnisa Ash’ari from the Brunei Youth Council (MBB) who represented Brunei Darussalam in the forum said “Each country agrees that on the grassroot level, ASEAN is only seen as a governmental link and does not resonate amongst the people, thus highlighting the lack of ASEAN identity and lack of people-driven ASEAN.”

Khairunnisa was also involved in the Young Leaders Roundtable Discussion where representatives from each ASEAN countries shared their views on how youth can help shape a post-2015 vision for ASEAN.

“This lack of awareness can make youths lose out on opportunities such as entrepreneurial development and youth working across borders,” she said.

Themed “Forward ASEAN: One Community, One Vision, One People”, the two-day forum was organised by the Asian Strategic and Leadership Institute (ASLI) and supported by Axiata in conjunction with the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur.

Among the points raised were the need to create wealth and opportunities within individual nations in order to build a strong ASEAN.

This is so that those from developing countries does not need to migrate to developed countries for employment, but instead can develop at their respective countries.

The forum also further encouraged youth mobility to help ASEAN members to develop human capital and contribute towards social development and social cohesiveness, apart from creating a platform exclusively for ASEAN youth to be able to engage with decision-makers from a youth-led perspective.

Sharing on the current challenge of our local youth and what best practices from other countries that can be adapted in the Sultanate, Khairunnisa shared, “Unemployment is one of the major issues facing our local youth as it impacts strongly on national development, from the rise of social issues, increase in welfare expenditure and decrease in economic activities.

“Some of the discussions highlighted on the potential of regional economic activities for the youth: the delegates shared about social entrepreneurship and networking of entrepreneurs in the region,” she added.

Currently Khairunnisa is focusing on promoting youth dialogues and also mentoring youth who are interested in developing their own programmes through two main channels, which are the Brunei Youth Council and also Green Brunei.

“I find that if you give young people the right space, they can come up with really good arguments and are actually very interested in the affairs of the country.

“Most of them just aren’t exposed to the NGO world and don’t really know where to channel their ideas and contributions.

“ I’m trying to advocate for more youth participation, starting from the grassroot level through inviting schools and mixing them up with NGOs. I think it’s very important for NGOs to make the effort in reaching out to regular youth, and not just those who are involved in NGO activities as volunteers.”

As for the next big project, MBB will be working with the Pembimbing Rakan Remaja (PRR) or peer support group of Sengkurong Sixth Form Centre (PTES) to organise the first Student Leadership Conference (SLC) that particularly targets youth studying in sixth form centres.

“We hope that this will be a good avenue to attract youth from a young age to be more aware of national issues as well as opportunities that they can take part in,” she concluded.

The Brunei Times