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Three-fifths ASEAN revelation Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Romi Nhung, Vietnam Mar 29, 2005
Child & Youth Rights   Interviews
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I opened a dialogue room for fellows of the Singapore International Foundation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Student Fellowship 2004 to talk about their awareness of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). To state in advance, these are outstanding ASEAN students and recent graduates, if not youth leaders from countries in the region. However, I am not going to say that they could speak on behalf of all young people in their countries; the discussion was primarily initiated for a group of energetic ASEAN citizens to share views on the MDGs, as well as the MDG Campaign.

The invitation had been sent out two weeks before the live chat on Yahoo Messenger. Then on the day itself, only ten people were able to come over to my room, but encouragingly enough, we had representatives from six of ten ASEAN countries which are Brunei (Luan Yin), Thailand (Nutta), Vietnam (Hong Nhung), Malaysia (Shyuan), Singapore (Farhan, Desmond) and the Philippines (Richard, Patrick, Christopher, Maida).

Have you ever heard of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)?

Four out of ten accounts were blinking. The outcome of 40% in this small community of youth turned out to be positive because some recent research indicated that 95% had not. However, when going further into some more details, only Christopher, a writer to the Manila Bulletin, could answer responsively. He was very confident to say the Philippines must be among the first drafters and signers of the Millennium Declaration or any other strategies most of the time. He also stated that “more should be done because I myself heard of the MDGs a lot during the early part of the Millennium but now...not a lot anymore." His country-mate, Maida, a Peace Program Officer under the Office of Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process of the Philippines, said that she had heard of the MDGs not so often, “might be once a year, during the international conferences” and lately when she was preparing a paper on Sustainable Development.

How important is the role of young people in the MDG Campaign?

Everyone unanimously rated the importance of youth participation at the highest point. Farhan, a Psychological Student at the National University of Singapore, commented, “The young have the energy, drive and idealism to promote and ensure the embrace of the objectives of the MDGs and the Millennium Campaign.” He insisted on “the very first attempt that youth can do is to read more about the MDGs and talk with people around them.” As the Head and Chief Editor of a club journal publication, he suggested that there were many opportunities for youth to be good contributors to newspapers in their countries by translating news around the Millennium Campaign (MC) into local languages.

“The youth being the largest sector of the population, and the group which will significantly feel the successes or failures of the MDGs is playing a key role in the MDG Campaign in any country”, affirmed Maida (the Philippines). “However, this role is not being taken upon by youth seriously enough, either because of ignorance or apathy.” Hong Nhung, a Linguistic Student at the Vietnam National University of Hanoi shared the same idea but looked ahead to a lot betterment of “actions in awareness of the MDGs done by young people.” She briefed everyone on an inspirational story of Tuyet Mai, a Law graduate, who made ”A journey towards a better future” by travelling to 23 provinces around Vietnam by public transport, talking about her country’s efforts to reach the MDGs to people.

Christopher (the Philippines) added on with his view of the youth’s burden. “Their duties are not only limited in making the plan survive and work for generations to come, but also contributing as active partakers in the quest for improving lives.” Everyone was agree with Christopher, “civic groups and NGOs need a lot of volunteers and awareness programs are needed to combat HIV/AIDS, discrimination and other social taboos and stigmas that causes drifts among people.” His fast typed speech was then concluded with a good statement, “The youth plays a key role in ensuring and at the same time improving the feasibility of the MDGs.”

What are your personal opinions on the MDGs?

“From what I know (which is not much, I am sorry to say), there is not much significantly new about the goals which are not already incorporated, either implicitly or otherwise, in the agenda of the national governments”, Maida (the Philippines) said.

Christopher (the Philippines) disagreed and said, “If all the governments in the world were doing the things they ought to do, we would not need the 2000 Millennium Declaration.” He remarked, “The objectives of the MDGs are roles that are part and parcel of every single government towards their people. The government as component of the state is an institution that ought to ensure the quality of the lives of its citizens.” His important point was that not all governments shared the same passion and drive towards the elimination of poverty, inequality, diseases, therefore, a global integration of efforts had to be done to further pressure other governments to work hard for these goals and at the same time to lend some helping hands towards other countries who needed crutches in order to move forward. “After all, every country is interconnected now in the globalized world,” Christopher concluded.

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Romi Nhung

*^-^* Romi *^-^*

Ask the Possible of the Impossible, "Where is your dwelling-place?" "In the dreams of the Impotents," comes the answer.

~ Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)~

Romi Nhung | Apr 1st, 2005
Dear SIF Alumni :) I would like to thank all of you for supporting me in one way or another. Even those who were not able to join with the talk, you have encouraged me so much to go on this work. My dearest Maida, your "Starfish" story still keeps inspiring me... See you all next Friday in Singapore! *^-^*

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