Jakarta, 8 May 2011

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They may have met only for the first time, but that has not stopped them from interacting and exchanging ideas here at the 18th ASEAN Summit. Having enjoyed peace and friendship for at lease a decade, they are also fortunate to be in the middle of booming region, where the economic future also looks bright.

For Nguyen Huu Trung from Viet Nam, the ice was quickly broken on this inaugural experience.

“I see that many of my friends from other ASEAN countries are friendly. We talk, we share and we eat together. We have many new ideas about how to develop the youth movement in particular to make ASEAN prosperity. The only problem is, the time is very short.”

Similar sentiments were shared by Mr Liauw Kee Meng from Singapore, and his Bruneian counterpart Ms Ruzanna Zukipli.

“It is very comfortable to work with youth from other Member States. It is an honour to be involved in something so big,” said the Singapore delegate. Agreeing, Ms Ruzanna said “We are a mixture of 10 nations with different views, opinions, culture, history, but one identity.”

The interests of the delegates also reflected their diversity.

Mr Mazhan B Mujail from Malaysia, for example, wants ASEAN to be a leader of sports and education.

The optimism in the future of ASEAN was also obvious to many of the delegates.

“If ASEAN is to be a Community in 2015, the important factor is to be a good neighbours. To respect as other as we are different, we have to share each others,” said Mr Pulawit Wanichsetakul from Thailand.

“I had a lovely time with my new friends from ASEAN countries. We have exchanged our knowledge and experiences,” said Sohkiethtisack Kingsada from Lao PDR.

Commenting on the programmes, Myanmar’s Dr Tun Tun Oo said “This kind of exchange programme can be enlarged even beyond ASEAN. We will know the knowledge and experience from other countries. It can be positive to unite the position of ASEAN. Such kind of activities can be done regularly.”

A common theme which emerged, is the friendship forged over the three days.

“It has been a truly amazing experienced during the past three days. After the meetings with my friends and the leaders, I am convinced that ASEAN is a beautiful regional organisation, with so many beautiful people. Our compliments to the ASEAN Chair, all ASEAN Leaders, and the Secretariat!” said Leon Flores III from the Philippines.

“Three days of gathering and training relating to youth. We are provided with a lot of opportunity to express themselves. We are happy together,” said Sok Thevutia from Cambodia.

As for Ms Sherly Mole from Indonesia, she can take pride in how her country had upheld its reputation as a senior member of ASEAN.

“Everything went very smooth and great. All youth delegates were coming with brilliant ideas and formulate their fresh ideas nicely in the Joint Statement. And look at the Leaders responses in our Joint Statement. There were very conducive exchange of views during the meeting. They are great, receptive and supportive.”

Similarly, ASEAN’s future lies with the young people. We hope they will pass this down through the generations.