Speech By Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister In Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister For Finance And Transport, At 36th Ship For Southeast Asian Youth Programme (SSEAYP)25 Nov 2009
Mr Aichiro Tanaka,
Ladies and Gentlemen
1 Good evening. On behalf of the Government and the people of Singapore, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all the young ambassadors from the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Programme (or SSEAYP for short) to our country.
2 It has been 36 years since the Nippon Maru ship set sail on its maiden SSEAYP voyage. Since then, the programme has enriched the lives of over 8,000 youths from ASEAN and Japan, and provided an invaluable experience of communal living onboard and unique cultural exchanges. This year, the new ship, Fuji Maru, continues this legacy to further instil a spirit of solidarity and cooperation that bodes well for the future of this region.
3 ASEAN is moving towards greater integration, especially with the coming into force of the ASEAN Charter in 2008. There is now the collective vision of the 2015 ASEAN Community which aims to achieve a holistic integration in the politico-security, economic and socio-cultural spheres. While SSEAYP is not a new programme, it nonetheless serves as a useful platform to bring us a step closer towards realising this vision. By bringing over 300 young people from ASEAN and Japan together in close quarters and to interact and exchange ideas, to allow them to visit the five ASEAN countries, SSEAYP has helped to promote better understanding and foster warm friendships among the participants. They would join other SSEAYP alumni as a group who will be able to appreciate and embody the ASEAN Community.
4 In our inter-connected world, it is this spirit of solidarity and co-operation that will see us through some of the challenges that our region faces. It is our guard against the threats of disease outbreaks, terrorism and economic crisis that our region faced in recent times. Such unwavering spirit will also move our development forward as our socio-economic progress becomes increasingly interlinked with the world beyond our shores. We can nurture and strengthen this spirit by fostering greater understanding and interaction between our nations and our people.
5 As young leaders, every one of you play an important role in the growth of your nations and in fostering these relationships. Fuji Maru is an ideal setting to share your views and to learn from your ASEAN friends. I believe that this year’s theme of “Youth Participation in Social Activities” would allow for your active discussions and participation throughout the programme and also encourage you to contribute further to the activities in your own communities.
6 You can help to safeguard and strengthen the harmony and resilience of our region and demonstrate how young people can lead the way and benefit from active community involvement. I encourage you to go a step further and think beyond your local community. Leverage on the network of friends that you have cultivated onboard SSEAYP and see how you can extend your reach and work together to make a difference in ASEAN, Japan and the rest of the world.
7 I am heartened to know that the spirit of camaraderie and solidarity for many of the ex-participants of the SSEAYP continues way beyond their one year participation. This would have not been possible without the Japanese Government generous sponsorship and continuous support for the SSEAYP and our deep appreciation to them for it. The success of the SSEAYP programme signifies the close ties that ASEAN and Japan share. We welcome Japan’s commitment to remain a key partner in the continuous development and strengthening of ASEAN.
8 I would also like to commend the members of SSEAYP International Singapore Board, SSEAYP alumni and the 36th SSEAYP Reception Committee for their strong support and dedication in supporting the National Youth Council to organise the SSEAYP local reception programme.
9 It is my sincere hope that all participants and officials of SSEAYP 2009 will have an enriching experience here in Singapore. To the SSEAYP 2009 Contingents – I wish you a safe and memorable voyage for the remaining of your SSEAYP journey.
10 Have a pleasant evening ahead. Thank you.