KEYNOTE SPEECH OF H.E. FOREIGN MINISTER RETNO MARSUDI AT THE OPENING OF THE ASEAN-IPR YOUTH CONFERENCE ON PEACE & TOLERANCE
H.E. RETNO L.P. MARSUDI
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA
ASEAN-IPR REGIONAL YOUTH CONFERENCE ON PEACE AND TOLERANCE:
BUILDING UNITY AND COMMON UNDERSTANDING IN COUNTERING INTOLERANCE AND VIOLENT EXTREMISM
JAKARTA, OCTOBER 19, 2018
Your Excellency Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN;
Ambassador Rezlan Izhar Jenie, Executive Director of ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalaamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh,
A very good morning to all of you.
I am very proud to be among the future leaders of Asia.
Despite the difficult and multifaceted challenges we are confronting, it gives me great relief and optimism to see the eager faces of our next generation.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The world we live in today continues to be marked by intolerance, hatred, and violence.
We are witnessing the return of identity politics in its most extreme form. Where religions, ethnicities, ideologies are being pitted against one another for narrow, short-sighted interests.
Supporters of identity politics exploit the growing powers of social media to attract public attention, fueling hatred, lies, fear, and even conflicts.
The saddest part is that many of our youths have become victims of this new brand of disinformation.
Another consequence of this social media noise phenomenon is the sense of apathy among our youths. Understandably, some of our youths have become tired of constantly reading and hearing false and hateful news.
The noise has turned some members of our youth to indifference. They even disassociate from efforts to contribute to the greater cause, which is to maintain an ecosystem of peace, stability, and prosperity that our region has enjoyed for the past 50 years.
Against this background, as a mother, I am very concerned for our next generation. Our children, our grandchildren, and our great grandchildren.
This grim reality and alarming phenomenon needs to be reversed.
The theme of todays Conference, Building Unity and Common Understanding in Countering Intolerance and Violent Extremism, is therefore extremely relevant.
In this connection, I wish to commend the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, ASEAN-IPR, for convening, in collaboration with the Republic of Korea, this Regional Youth Conference on Peace and Tolerance.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The real question now is how to transform the challenges faced by todays millennials into opportunities that will shape a prosperous future.
The answer is in you, the youths of Asia, as agents of peace, as beacons of tolerance, and as engines of economic growth.
I believe that there is no better way forward than to empower the youth, I repeat, empower the youth.
The Asia-Pacific region is set to enjoy a demographic dividend like no other region will ever experience.
The 213 million youth population in Southeast Asia is a massive potential waiting to be unlocked.
What must we do to empower the youth?
First, we must provide an enabling environment for youths to become engines of economic growth.
Economic development creates the incentive needed to drive youths away from intolerance and extremism, and focus more on improving their lives and the lives of those around them
In this connection, the youths creativity needs to be encouraged. Needs to be boosted.
Creativity is the main driving force behind innovation and entrepreneurship.
Within this framework, we must provide sufficient incentives and regulatory space.
The Indonesian Government, for its part, is very supportive of technological innovations.
President Joko Widodo continues to promote the light-touch and safe harbor approach towards the start-up industries, by providing vast regulatory space for technological innovation to grow and expand.
This is why Indonesias top unicorn tech startups are led by millennials, including Traveloka; Bukalapak.com; Go-jek; and Tokopedia.
These examples need to be doubled and even tripled. They need to be replicated.
This is an opportunity that youths must seize.
Second, youth empowerment can only flourish under an open and tolerant society.
I never get tired of saying that while diversity is given, tolerance must be nurtured.
Your job, as future leaders, is to instill tolerance, fairness, and openness in our societies.
You must become an agent of tolerance, ambassadors for peace.
For this to happen, the initiative has to begin from each and every one of you.
You must be part of the solution, not the problem. Your actions would not only benefit you but also others. Respect different beliefs and viewpoints. Celebrate diversity as a strength, not as a weakness. Nurture the culture of solidarity, peace, and tolerance. Nurture the habit of dialogue.
Equally important, is the need to use social media wisely. Stay away from hateful-content and take time to ensure that what you share online is true, factual, and beneficial.
My third and final observation is directed more towards my generation, or what you call the old people generation.
We, as old people, need to create the right forum and platform to hear the voices of the youth to create space for peace and tolerance to be cultivated and displace the propaganda of violent extremism
We have to formulate strategic steps to transform this habit of tolerance into a regional brand. Beyond our borders.
Thats why this ASEAN-IPR Regional Youth Conference is a very good example of such a forum as a hub for the exchange of views and ideas as well as the promotion of tolerance, inter-cultural and inter-faith dialogue; and as a forum to explore innovative solutions in countering intolerance and violent extremism.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There is no doubt that the youth holds the key to our future, as agents for innovation, social progress and economic growth.
Your imagination, idealism, energy, and vision are essential in ensuring the future prosperity and stability of our region.
Allow me to end by quoting the late Mr. Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on societys margin, all of us will be impoverished.
Wassalaamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.