KASYP Virtual Discussion Series 2020 - Regional Programme Political Dialogue Asia
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The third installment of the KASYP Virtual Discussion Series 2020 focused on the future of international cooperation in post-COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual event was held last October 27, 2020 via Zoom platform from 8:30 PM to 10:30 PM Singapore Time.
This session was co-organized by the Foundation together with several alumni of the Konrad Adenauer School for Young Politicians (KASYP) from South Korea and Malaysia namely Mr. Oh Yonghee and YB Lee Chean Chung, respectively and both are fellows of KASYP batch 03. Apart from the KASYP alumni, a bipartisan forum named “International Relations Forum of the National Assembly of Korea” joined the event as the first external partner for this said project.
The objectives of this particular discussion were to examine the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on international cooperation, to project the economic changes in international trade, official development assistance and world norms post-COVID-19, and to identify new ways of cooperation in order to continue the economic and political developments of Asian countries.
To officially start the programme, the online participants were welcomed by Mr. Christian Echle, the Director of the Regional Programme Political Dialogue Asia of KAS Singapore. In his message, Mr. Echle emphasized the potential impact of the pandemic not just on health and economy but also on politics particularly on multilateral cooperation among countries. As lockdown and travel restrictions have become popular measures to contain the virus, these pose a challenge when it comes to knowledge and technology transfer in combating the pandemic. Despite these challenges, Mr. Echle expressed hope that through technologies alternative means to facilitate multilateral cooperation, such as this progamme, will ensure concerted efforts in countering the growing trend of deglobalization and to a successful recovery from this pandemic.
After the welcome address, this was followed by a presentation of YB Lee Chean Chung, State Assemblyman for Pahang State Legislative Assembly, Malaysia where he highlighted 5 scenarios of post-pandemic geopolitics namely, 1) the end of the globalized liberal order, 2) a 1930s-like authoritarian challenge, 3) a China-dominated world order, 4) a green international agenda, and 5) more of the same situation. With this on the background, YB Lee presented three potential scenarios for Asia. First is the challenge for ASEAN centrality where competing multilateral cooperation mechanisms exist such as the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) vs. Mekon-US Partnership Ministerial Meeting, the differing positions of the ASEAN countries on South China Sea and many more (trade agreement, fishing, tourism). Second is the possibility of more regionalization like the ASEAN+3 and the Chiang Mai initiative multilateralization (CMIM). Lastly, some countries may exploit the pandemic to expand their influence through vaccine diplomacy with Russia and China taking the lead. taking the lead. YB Lee ended his presentation with the hope for multilateralism to continue and for the commitment towards trade and constructive engagement to foster.
The next input was provided by Ms. Nari Shin who is a member of the International Relations Forum of the National Assembly of Korea where she spoke about “education during COVID-19 and beyond”. She argued why international cooperation is needed more than ever in the education sector and she also presented some suggestions on how to prevent a potential “learning crisis” due to the pandemic. She highlighted the shift in demographics where 37% and 63% of the children now live in developed and developing economies, respectively. Another issue raised during the discussion is the challenge faced by poor countries when it comes to financing their education needs such as addressing the massive shortage of teachers and to support the expansion of secondary and higher education. Ms. Shin concluded her talk with an important reminder that education is not only a fundamental right but also a global common good which serves as the primary foundation and driver of progress across all 17 sustainable development goals. Lastly, she invited all participants to heed the call to action in preventing a “learning crisis” because when “the education system collapses, productive societies cannot be sustained.”
The virtual learning session was moderated by Mr. Oh Yonghee and was participated by KASYP alumni as well as the members of the International Relations Forum of the National Assembly of Korea, and youth leaders from Asia and Europe.