Monday, September 05, 2016

Speech at 9th ICAPP Assembly - The Challenges of One Asia

The following is my speech delivered at 9th ICAPP Assembly:

Greetings to our Hon Madam Chairman, Hon Jose, Hon Chung, all the Distinguish Guests, Hon Delegates and politicians from all over Asia.

After listening to all the speeches made by the previous speakers, there is no doubt that we are extremely thankful to the Standing Committee of ICAPP for organizing this forum and the extremely warm hospitality of the host, UMNO and the Government of Malaysia had extended to all of us here. Let everyone of us put our hands together for one last time, to applause the tremendous efforts and time put in by the Standing Committee of ICAPP and the host, UMNO and Government for Malaysia for giving us such a wonderful conference.

The People’s Power Party of Singapore is a very new and small party in Singapore and this is the first time we are invited by ICAPP to this conference. As a new participant of this conference, I am extremely impressed by the ideology of inclusiveness of ICAPP.

No matter how small the political party is, or how small your country is, they will extend the invitation to you to participate in ICAPP forum. Both Ruling and Opposition parties from the respective countries were invited and this is an extremely rare example in the international platform. Even UMNO, the dominant party of the ruling coalition in Malaysia, has extended invitation to the opposition parties in Malaysia. I am truly impressed by such open minded inclusiveness demonstrated here.

I also believe that small parties do matter in contributing to the Vision of One Asia. The potentials of small parties should not be limited to their physical size, but only limited by their vision, ideology, political will, determination and of course, their brains.

Just like Singapore, my homeland, we may be a small country in the world but we have contributed tremendously to the world in various aspects far much more beyond the limitations of our physical size. I am sure ICAPP also believes in the importance of inclusiveness and potentials of small parties in Asia in contributing towards its Vision of One Asia as well.

After listening to the 50 speeches made by the various esteemed delegates and interacting with some of you out there, I concluded that there are basically TWO pertinent issues constantly revolving around the engagement. As politicians of Asia, regardless of the size of our parties, or whether we are in the opposition or ruling parties, we are all concerned of the sufferings of our people and the prospect of developing our economies to bring wealth, prosperity and happiness to them.

The importance of Peace and Stability could never be over-emphasized for Economic development. In the last century, some of our fellow Asian countries had suffered great sufferings in wars and destructions accompanied by great instability. I am extremely happy to hear some of the delegates from these counties to emphasize that they have walked out of political turmoil and instability while going on the path towards economic development and prosperity. Countries like Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Myanmar etc, have walked out of their past political woes and making progress in economic development. However, there are still some of the countries represented here, suffering from great instability in their homeland; eg. Iraq and Palestine. My heart felt prayer is with them.

Nearer to my homeland, the current instability in South China Sea is of great concern to Singapore. As a small and open economy, it is Singapore’s CORE interest to see peace in Asia, especially the South China Sea which is critical to our status as a trading port.

Fortunately, it is reassuring to hear from Hon Rufus Bautista Rodriguez, the delegate from Philippines, to make the point that the new President of Philippines is taking a pragmatic approach of conducting dialogue with China to achieve mutually beneficial win-win outcome for both countries in collaborative effort of managing the disputed territory. Most importantly, war is not an option for Philippines.

Having attended the IPDA conference which talks about disaster assistance to various Asian countries, I applaud ICAPP for having the vision of providing such humanitarian aids to fellow Asian countries in times of disaster needs.

However, something ran through my mind while listening to the delegates in deliberating on the various Natural Disasters their countries faced in the past, present and potentially in the future.

Disasters, in my humble opinion, appear to have three types. First, Natural Disasters which we are quite familiar like the yearly typhoons, hurricanes and earthquakes etc. The second type of disaster refers to disasters created by humans and unfortunately to say, mostly due to some fellow politicians around the world. These include wars, conflicts and sufferings happening around the world. The third type of disaster refers to disasters created by both humans and nature, in particular, climate change and environmental issues.

As politicians, we yearn for power because power to us, is the necessary tool to govern and make good use in dictating the direction of our countries in accordance to what we believe. However, Power Corrupts and many human-induced disasters were caused by the corruption of power.

If you happen to have my People’s Power Party name card, you should notice that at the back of it, the very first two CORE VALUES written are Public Interests and Public Service.

I believe that all of us, when we first make that decision to join the political field, we have made this solemn vow to uphold Public Interests and give our best to Public Service. We should not forget these important solemn vows which we made when we first get involved in politics. As long as we adhere to these promises, we would resist the enormous temptations that come with Power. These would prevent us from fallen into the wrong side of history in making disasters for our respective countries and humanity. We should always remember that Public Interests and Public Service could also be applied to the responsibility towards humanity of the region or the World or Asia as well.

Power needs to be controlled in order to work well to enhance public interests instead of being corrupted to create great sufferings to humanity. As my contemporary opposition member from Singapore, Hon Kenneth Jeyaratnam, has made about the importance of Democracy in political and economic development, I would like to raise the real substance of Democracy as stated in People’s Power Party’s Core Values.

The Third Core Values of my party, People’s Power Party, is Separation of Powers and this refers to the Separation of FIVE Powers instead of Three. Contrary to most belief, this is the concept of Democracy promoted by the late Father of Modern China, Dr Sun Yat Sen. It is a truly Asian version of Democracy in Checks and Balances.

The Five Powers include the three commonly know one, i.e. Legislative Power, Executive Power, Judiciary Power, Impeachment Power and Power of Selection/Election (Examination).

In ancient Chinese dynasties, all these powers had already existed for thousands of years in the system of governance and this is why, the Ancient Chinese political governance was regarded as one of the most advanced in its time before the Western ideology of Democracy prosper.

This is especially so for the Scholar system where Examinations were held to select the talented people to help in governing as court officials. In modern context, elections department should be independent and the Civil Service Commission which selects applicants to join the civil service in various departments and positions should be independent and separated from the meddling of the Executive as well.

The less talk about function or power in Ancient Chinese Dynasties is the Power of Impeachment which a group of court officials were given SPECIAL Immunity to speak their minds against corrupted officials in the system. This is similar to the functions of Anti-Corruption Bureaus which we have in modern times.

The only problem was and still is, all these Powers were subjected to interferences and manipulations due to the structure of governance. Dr Sun and members of People’s Power Party believe that these Powers should be separated and given Independence before functional democracy could be institutionalized into the system of governance.

No mater what system of governance we have in our country, we should institutionalize the Separation of the Five Powers so that effective checks and balances could take place and thus, prevent ambitious politicians to go astray from the Good Politics of serving public interests and make decisions which will become disastrous to the country as well as the world at large.

We in People’s Power Party believe that this is important for an effective government. We also believe that this is one of the most important safeguards against corruption of power and disasters induced by politicians.

The next important concern most Hon delegates in this conference have in mind is economic development for their countries and rightfully so, because only with economic development, we could bring prosperity and happiness to our own people.

I would like to share our Singapore’s experience in economic development to everyone here. As I have mentioned, peace and stability are paramount prerequisite to our economic success. Apart from that, we have good neighbours like Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei which are extremely important for our success. Without the support and cooperation from these good neighbours, we would not be where we are today.

Singapore has benefited tremendously from the support and cooperation of our neighbours. Can you imagine how Singapore could even survive without the generous supply of water from Malaysia? We have collaboration with Indonesia in developing Batam into an extended industrial arm and our friendly terms with Brunei had provided us with the important oil supplies for our oil refineries.

As a small country scarce of natural resources, we depended heavily on the supply of natural resources from our neighbours for trading even before our country was founded in 1965.

Cooperation and collaboration of countries in emerging countries are even more important for Economic development in modern era. This is especially true when Globalization with rapid information flow and demand of efficient logistics and financing in trading has posed tremendous challenge to countries which are trying to catch up in economic development.

Singapore is fortunate to be one of the pioneer in developing an efficient logistics and financial hub for our region so to provide the necessary service to our neighbours to achieve mutual beneficial economic returns.

Similar development model could be replicated in other Asian countries but this could only be done through sincere cooperation and collaboration between neighbouring countries. For example, a great potential would emerge in Indo-China if Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos could work together to develop a common free trade zone which utilize the comparative advantages of each countries to amplify each other’s economic growth. Of course, my country, Singapore, would naturally be able to provide the necessary know how in developing industrial parks in the Free Trade Zone as well as port management expertise.

In short, my message to all my fellow Hon politicians here is simple. We all strive to seek peace, stability, economic development, prosperity and happiness to our own people. But this could and should only be achieved through mutually beneficial collaborations and cooperation instead of conflicting contests of interests.

In this new era of rapid Globalization which poses great challenges to all of us, we should instead think big and realize that our respective countries’ interests could only be achieved by having good neighbours which are willing to work together for greater benefits for all.

One Asia is a Great Vision of ICAPP and a starting point for all of us. We need to realize there is also an One Politics which all of us share in common, that is none other than to achieve stability, economic development thus prosperity and happiness to our people. Thank you.

Goh Meng Seng
Secretary General
People’s Power Party of Singapore.