The QI Group was the proud Title Sponsor of the 2020 ASEAN Leadership and Partnership Forum and Virtual Conference held at the Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur on 27-28 August 2020. The event focused on Partnership for Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN.  Over 260 participants took part in the event with a mix of physical and virtual attendance. The high-level Forum discussed how responsive ASEAN can be to global economic challenges and geopolitical trends.

QI Group Executive Chairman, Vijay Eswaran delivered the Special Address at the opening event and urged ASEAN nations to unite in order for Asean to remain relevant. He stated that ASEAN, as Southeast Asia’s regional bloc must come together as a formidable adversary and trading bloc to pursue collective goals and compete with superpowers like China and the US.

“The impact of Covid-19 and the new normal is here to stay. Moving forward, we need to put our differences aside and unite to work as one. ASEAN was a great promise and no doubt has the highest potential to grow compared to other regions. Together, we must send a strong message that we are an economic powerhouse, and a formidable force when we truly unite, think and act collectively,” he said.

Mr Eswaran also pointed out that Malaysia and Thailand are the two unique forces that can bridge the divide to work together, especially in efforts to bring down barriers such as tariffs and border controls, recognising each other’s skillsets and encouraging free movement of labour. He said Malaysia and Thailand represent the real hope of this happening and that both countries should take lead roles as bridging agents to integrate the rest of ASEAN, specifically connecting the North and South which will open up the region significantly.

 

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The second speaker from the QI Group was Mr Vijay Poonoosamy, the Director of International & Public Affairs who spoke on trust and transparency as the key to building strong partnerships amongst the ASEAN nations.

Mr Poonoosamy said that trustworthiness and transparency must be at the heart of everything because regional nation building requires a sense of belonging and a sense of pride, both of which cannot be instilled amidst the exclusions via inequity, injustices and inequalities. These social ills clearly become toxic when mixed with bad governance, anti-democratic values and leaders without integrity in the public and private sectors. He believed the fight against poverty and inequality is critical in the process of regional nation building because it is economically counterproductive, socially unsustainable and politically suicidal for the few to skew the many.

Other distinguished speakers and panellists at the Conference included leaders from the government, public and private sectors representing the nations within the region during this two-day event. Among them were The Hon. Dato Seri Setia Haji Erywan The Minister of Foreign Affairs II from Brunei Darulsalam, H.E Dr Than Myint The Union Minister for Commerce, Myanmar, Mr Masataka Fujita The Secretary General of ASEAN Promotion Centre on Trade, Investment and Tourism and Prof Simon S.M. Ho The President of Hang Seng University, Hong Kong.