Perspectives of an ASEAN Community from Around the Globe – SIF Launches Volume III of ‘Singapore: Insights from the Inside’

To commemorate Singapore’s chairmanship of ASEAN this year, the SIF has brought together perspectives from friends across the globe on what the ASEAN identity means to them and how Singapore has and can contribute towards a better ASEAN community.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (right) was presented with a token of appreciation featuring the book cover illustrations of Singapore: Insights from the Inside – Volume III by SIF Chairman Ambassador Ong Keng Yong (left)

Before launching Singapore: Insights from the Inside Volume III (SIFTI) alongside Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, SIF’s Chairman and Ms Jean Tan, SIF’s Executive Director, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs shared that many people generally thought of the 51-year old ASEAN as a political entity and the economic opportunities it represented but not enough spent time thinking about the socio-cultural aspects. He said, “I believe [SIFTI] gives us a more human dimension as to what ASEAN is really about It focuses on different themes including education, healthcare, social entrepreneurship, environment, and the arts -  topics which you would find younger citizens truly care... I am glad we have this book and an opportunity to emphasise the opportunities for young ASEAN citizens to do more together.”

Centred around five themes of identity, inclusiveness, and innovation, imagination, and influence, the book comprises 50 contributions from across 20 nationalities, including Congressman Denny Heck, United States House of Representatives, Taizo Son, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Mistletoe, acclaimed chef Yoshihiro Murata, Piyush Gupta, CEO and Director of DBS Group, and Dr Noeleen Heyzer, former UN Under-Secretary-General.

To commemorate Singapore’s chairmanship of ASEAN this year, this edition of the book explores the lesser known socio-cultural aspect of ASEAN through the experiences and anecdotes of the contributors on what the ASEAN identity meant to them and how Singapore has and can contribute towards a better ASEAN community. The previous edition of the book, SIFTI Volume II, explored the heart and soul of Singapore through the eyes of its contributors when it was launched in 2015 to coincide with the nation’s 50th year of independence.

The book launch for SIFTI Volume III saw nearly 100 guests in attendance, including partners and friends of the SIF, members of the diplomatic corps and local press, and contributors to the book. The evening centered around a dialogue between book contributors Chong Siak Ching, CEO of National Gallery Divya Patel, Partnerships and Programmes Lead at Ashoka Singapore-Malaysia, Matthew Hermann, Senior Advisor at Roosevelt Group, Moe Thuzar, Lead Researcher at the ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute and the book’s editor Chia Sue-Ann.  The panellists discussed crowdsourced questions on how the strengths of ASEAN communities and Singapore, as a founding member, can be drawn upon to build a better world. 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan with SIFTI contributors, members of SIF’s board of governors and SIF’s Executive Director Jean Tan (fifth from right).

The event affirmed Singapore’s role in ASEAN in promoting a cohesive community in various fields for some guests. Konstantinos Antonopoulos, Representative to ASEAN, MSF International shared, “Singapore’s role as 2018 ASEAN chair can lead and enthuse the ASEAN community to drive innovation initiatives for a more dynamic and linked region. With its leadership it can further strengthen the collective resilience against common health threats and address the gap and disparities between public health and medical/health research and development (R&D) in an economically and diverse region.”

The SIF has been promoting greater understanding between Singaporeans and world communities through international collaboration since 1991. ASEAN has and continues to a priority for the SIF. To have our international community come together to both celebrate and reflect on how we can all further promote peace and uplift the lives of its people is another positive step towards a more resilient and innovative ASEAN. Singapore: Insights from the Inside Volume III can be downloaded from the SIF website at www.sif.org.sg/sifti

Articles about the book launch English daily The Straits Times and Mandarin daily Lianhe Zaobao can be found here and here

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