Remarks by Emilio Umeoka, President, Microsoft Asia Pacific; Aburizal Bakrie, Coordinating Minister of People’s Welfare, Republic of Indonesia; Craig Mundie, Microsoft Chief Research & Strategy Officer; and H.E. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General, ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations)
May 8, 2008
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and Gentleman, please welcome President of Microsoft Asia Pacific, Emilio Umeoka. (Applause.)
EMILIO UMEOKA: Excellencies, ministers, honored guests, ladies and gentleman, good morning and welcome to the Government Leaders Forum Asia.
Before I kick off, I need to take a moment and express our condolences on behalf of Microsoft to the people of Myanmar. It’s extremely hard to comprehend tragedies of such magnitude. Today on the Wall Street Journal they’re estimating more than 100,000 people that could be dead in Myanmar.
But during these moments it’s a very important time for us as an international community to really step up to the challenge, to respond through some of the public and private partnerships that we have here, and to understand and challenge and take a leadership position on how we can address challenges like this.
I want to take a moment also to mention that in the next couple of days we’ll have plenty of opportunity to do this. I would like to start thanking our co-host, the Government of Indonesia, for welcoming us to Jakarta, for their strong partnership in bringing this event to fruition.
Our theme for this year’s GLF Asia is serving citizens, serving the citizens, the transformative power of information technology in delivering government services. Under that broad umbrella we will be discussing three issues. They are at the top of the mind for every policymaker and all the communities they serve: healthcare, education and sustainable economic growth.
These changes create extraordinary opportunities for the people of this region and in many cases, these opportunities have become reality. But there are significant challenges still in place and over the next day and a half, we will be both discussing these opportunities but also the challenges.
We’ve tried to organize the forum in a way that both provides a good view of practical and groundbreaking applications of technology to improve the delivery of government services, and also highlight some of the most important public policy issues that are implicated through the expended use and prevalence of years of technology.
A few words about the agenda. Today, we’ll cover three core themes with a series of visionary keynote presentations and highly interactive panel discussions, of course featuring very prominent thinkers from both Asia Pacific and outside the region. We’ll conclude today with remarks by Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, the Under Secretary General of the United Nations and also executive secretary of UNESCAP.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll break into two separate groups. The first track will be seen showcasing some exciting applications in technology solutions in both education and healthcare. The second track will address some of the most important public policy issues that are implicated by today’s rapidly changing IT environment. We’ll then wrap up day two with perspectives on all of those topics in a question and answer session with three people: the President of Indonesia, His Excellency Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Bill Gates and Craig Mundie.
You will find cards on the table and also in your registration packets for questions and answers, and you can drop them in the containers or also at the registration desk.
In summary, our hope is to accomplish three major objectives through this forum. The first is to take real steps forward in addressing issues that are of collective interest and concerns to all of the stakeholder groups that are represented here in this room.
The second, to identify new opportunities to increase the effectiveness of PPPs, Public and Private Partnerships.
And the third is to enable opportunity for all of the citizens and to really make Asia Pacific an even more competitive region, to tap every single strand of human potential across this great region.
Once again, welcome to the Government Leaders Forum. We look forward to a productive and enjoyable two days with you.
I now have the distinct honor to introduce to you Mr. Ir Aburizal Bakrie, Coordinating Minister of People’s Welfare for Indonesia. Mr. Bakrie has had an illustrious career spanning both public and private sectors, having managed a successful and diverse business and also having held important positions in the Indonesian Government and in ASEAN. Minister Bakrie was asked by the president to take a leadership role in the organization of this Government Leaders Forum, and we greatly appreciate his many efforts in this regard. Please join me in welcoming Minister Bakrie. (Applause.)
IR ABURIZAL BAKRIE: Ladies and gentleman, ministers, friends, before I start my remarks, I’d like to join Emilio to say sympathy and condolence to the people and government of Myanmar.
Today, the government of Indonesia is a good neighbor and a friend of Myanmar, is sending three Hercules planes to Myanmar of medicine, doctors, food, and also is giving $1 million of donation to the people of Myanmar.
It is an honor for me to welcome all of you here this morning. The leaders’ forums are always interesting to watch, because I think the role of leadership is fundamental to human society. It is a fact of nature that there is always the beginning of something and the end of something. With creative power and determination, leaders open new frontiers, create a new perspective, prepare the road for the others to follow.
So, we’ll come to Jakarta, a proud city with a long history. I hope the city and the spicy food are not too hot for you to enjoy. Only after you deal with these two elements, a new vista of beauty, depth, and hospitality is opened before your eyes.
Ladies and gentleman, the transformative power of information technology is a big issue, the importance of which most people are now in agreement. Never before we are so connected. To the extent that for some people having a short solitary and quiet time without hand phone, without computers, the TV, is indeed a luxury. The list of never before can be continued almost endlessly.
The big picture we all understand. It is a force for power in history that changes the people’s life. But, how forceful? What is the boundary of human possibility that sets the right and wrong, the good and bad in our effort to use new power? How can we make it more useful in achieving something simple but very important to our societies, such as eradicating poverty, improving education, health, providing more effective healthcare and so on? How can all governments all over the world reap the benefit of the new possibilities brought about by the new information technology to educate their citizens?
These are not questions for kids to play with. In fact, they are among the most important questions we now have to answer. I know we cannot answer all of those questions now in great detail, but it is my hope that in this leaders forum we will share our experiences and begin to understand more the right approach to answer the questions.
Ladies and gentleman, Indonesia is now the fourth largest democracy. I’m very proud of that, and even more proud of the fact that we have proven that democracy, Islam and economic growth are not incompatible. In fact, there might be a good case to say that they strengthen each other in a way that surprises some of the skeptics.
Like other countries, Indonesia and the government of Indonesia have reaped the benefits of the latest wave of the new technology, including the information technology. We have realized, for instance, how important the personal computers are and the connection to the world they make possible for our young citizens. We have seen how hand phones make a difference in rural economies. We have seen how the market for many IT elements has increased astronomically. We have also realized that to improve our democracy, and to increase our economic achievements we need to use IT and computers more. The new wave of technology empowers the citizens and enables the government to provide better services to them.
The question is about what is the degree to which we can afford, given the limited resources, to provide and mass market the technology and its components as rapidly as possible to the greater part of our population?
It is on that point that I want to give my highest appreciation to Microsoft and to the Gates Foundation for the effort to give a lending hand to so many countries and communities the world over, including Indonesia. Microsoft is not only a pioneer, it is a force in history that leads the pack. It is an innovative institution that has become the embodiment of youthfulness and creative spirit, something the Austrian economist philosopher Joseph Schumpeter said to be behind any significant change in history and the economic system.
Indonesia needs to have its own Microsoft. We are trying hard to improve our schools and to change the mindset of our people so that one day in our society we hope we will have a thousand Bill Gates who in their own way create something new and improve other people’s lives.
So, again I welcome all of you to Jakarta, and appreciate deeply your effort and participation in this great forum. I’m sure you will enjoy the presentation and discussion today and the coming days. Thank you. (Applause.)
EMILIO UMEOKA: Minister Bakrie, thank you very much for your warm welcoming remarks and for joining us today at this forum.
I now have the pleasure of inviting Mr. Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s Chief Research and Strategy Officer, to deliver his keynote address. Craig is already well known by many of you as one of the leading thinkers of the information technology industry. As some of you are already aware, Craig will be taking several of Bill Gates’s responsibilities as Bill transitions to a more part-time role with the company this coming July. Please join me in welcoming Craig. (Applause.)
CRAIG MUNDIE: Good morning everyone. I too would like to express my concern and condolences regarding the situation in Myanmar. For me personally I can relate a little bit to the tragedy there, as when the Katrina Hurricane hit in New Orleans, my family and my wife’s family lived there, and they spent two months living with us in Seattle as a result. While the loss of life clearly in that case wasn’t as high as it is expected to be in Myanmar, it’s also clear that these situations create a need for a great deal of help. Microsoft took some actions in the case of the Katrina event over time to assist in recreating some of the logistics in communications capability, and we’re evaluating what we can do as this tragedy goes on to assist in the Myanmar situation.
It is an honor for me to be here today and to talk with such a distinguished group of government and community leaders. First, I’d like to thank Minister Bakrie for his warm welcome. As my colleague Emilio Umeoka said, Microsoft is delighted to bring this Government Leaders Forum to Jakarta at the invitation of His Excellency, the President of Indonesia.
We’re honored to partner with the government of Indonesia in planning this event, and I’d like to express personal thanks to Minister Bakrie, who assumed a leadership role in driving the effort. For my part, it’s a great pleasure to be back in the country, and I look very much forward to the next two days.
The focus of this event, as others have said, is the transformational power of information technology in delivering government services, in particular, the power of IT to transform education, healthcare, and economic development.
I’d like to start by talking about economic development because it’s crucial to everything we’ll be discussing in the next two days. Promoting economic development has obviously always been a core goal for every government, but the kind of economic development needed today is very different from that of the past.
To succeed in the 21st century global marketplace, countries must focus on creating world class economies, in fact, world class knowledge economies, and this is actually good news, particularly for developing economies, because the transformation from industrial and agrarian economies to knowledge economies is a great global leveler. It’s also a transformation that’s being powered by information technology.
In fact, in his book, “The World Is Flat,” which many of you probably had read, by Tom Friedman, he identified 10 forces that flattened the world, and nearly all were made possible by information technology based innovations that any country can leverage. These IT innovations, such as the PC-driven information revolution, the Internet, productivity, workflow and collaboration software, increasing ubiquitous digital devices, all are the building blocks of knowledge economics.
IT helps companies increase efficiency and productivity. IT contributes to the network effects like lower transaction costs and faster innovation. The Internet promotes global trade by connecting buyers and sellers and by cutting market entry costs. IT investment and use cause a shift toward workers with higher skill sets and higher wages. And of course a thriving IT industry is itself a key driver of economic growth. And taken together, all of these help attract additional investment, both local and foreign.
So, with the help of IT, almost every country now has the opportunity to go head to head with established global competitors, and that just wasn’t possible in the past. But it’s not quite that simple because, to make all this possible, you first need to solve fundamental issues such as education and healthcare.
Without an education system that produces skilled workers, countries can’t create the pool of talent that they need to compete globally. And without adequate healthcare, society as a whole will find it hard to thrive. Information technology can also play a key role in solving both of these problems, as we’ll discuss during this meeting.
Let’s look at education first. When you consider the world’s education systems, the first thing you notice are the extremes. Nearly every school and college in the United States has Internet access. Nearly every school in the United Kingdom has interactive whiteboards. Yet over 375 million primary and secondary aged children worldwide don’t attend school at all, and children in many countries get nothing beyond a basic primary education.
You also notice that today’s classrooms aren’t much different than they were 100 years ago. Students still sit at desks taking notes on paper as a teacher lectures to them from the front of the room. And the way teachers teach hasn’t changed much either, even in the most developed schools.
Productivity and collaboration software have made a huge impact in the business world, but only scratched the surface in education. Mobile phones, instant messaging, social networks are all a big part of students’ lives today where they have access to them but are almost totally absent from involvement in the classroom in the teaching process.
So, while technology has transformed how we live and work, it hasn’t yet made much impact on how we learn. Why is that?
The number one reason is that information technology has yet to deliver solutions that meet the needs of every part of the education system: the students, the teachers, the parents, the schools, the administrators, and even the government who funds them.
As a result, IT still is often seen as overhead rather than an enabler by education systems that are already under immense pressure from growing student populations, teachers who fear even greater demands on their time and widespread budget cuts.
For IT really to get traction in education it must, from the outset, help education systems overcome these challenges. And we’re actually now at a point where IT can help. It can broaden the reach of education, from well-resourced developed world systems to the under-served communities. They can utilize new generations of digital devices, from tablet computers to low cost cell phones. It can enable relevant, personalized and engaged models of learning. More interactive learning processes stimulate and re-engage the student.
These students live a life at home frequently where they have access to technologies that makes the school experience relatively boring or mundane. Collaboration software that reaches across the classroom and allow the students access to others around the world can give educators more insight and time, can optimize tasks that consume much of their time today, like routine grading, finding new materials and tracking student progress.
We can use new kinds of personalized learning to meet students’ unique needs. We can nurture powerful learning communities, enabling groups of educators to create and share great learning materials. We can enable students to reach out to their peers and experts from around the world. We can support agile and connected school systems, systems that work more efficiently and deliver better outcomes.
We’re already seeing some notable successes when we apply information technology in these ways. For example, Microsoft’s Innovative Teachers Network, which today is the world’s largest online network of collaboration portals for educators, where 1 million teachers connect to share ideas, best practices and professional development resources.
Our Partners in Learning program provides educators and partners around the world with resources, training and content and is now operating, after a few years, in more than 100 countries. Asia has so far reached nearly 35 million students and teachers through this partnership with Microsoft.
And we’re also seeing many successful country-specific initiatives. For example, in India our research group out of Bangalore developed a technology called the digital study hall. This project records live classes delivered by the best teachers in each district and then redistributes them on DVDs to poor rural schools. Today, more than 40 schools have been included in this program and it has had surprising results. In the beginning, we thought it would just be a vehicle to deliver better lectures to all students. In the end, the teachers at a local level took the DVDs home. They watched them at night. First, they learned the material. Ultimately, they learned to emulate the teaching methods of the best teachers. And so we had a very positive outcome that was unexpected.
In Malaysia, Generosity M, a collaboration with the Ministry of Education that includes the robotic studio development tools for use in schools. Students love access to this robotic technology because it provides a very visceral and immediate feedback capability. We provide digital readiness curriculums and a student technology enabler pilot to drive IT use among younger students and those from rural schools.
In Vietnam, the Multipoint Pilot Program, where multiple mice are connected to a single PC, has so far been rolled out to 50 schools nationwide. Again, these represent innovative ways to bring lower cost access to technology for education.
In Singapore, we started several years ago at the Crescent Girls’ School introducing tablet computers to be used as digital textbooks and for note-taking and replacing paper books and notepads. The girls’ use of this technology, which was not just in the classroom but provided them 24 hours a day access to the Internet and to this type of interactive computing technology, resulted in many similar unexpected results. I personally met a number of 14-year old girls who had decided to embark on their own startup business, providing anime characters on small cleaning devices and they’d sell them to their girlfriends in school.
I think this shows the power of IT to stimulate creative thinking and to encourage people to take risks that they might otherwise not take.
And this is just the start. What I hope we can discuss at this Government Leaders Forum is how we can work together to achieve the educational outcomes we all seek. Through strong partnerships and close collaboration with every part of the education system, we can use proven real world technologies to deliver immediate results and also a clear path to future innovation.
With the right combination of software, online services and devices, we can put empowering technology into the hands of every student, scaling the benefits of 21st century education quickly and affordably to as many young people as possible. And as a result, we can start to flatten the inequalities that exist between the world’s education systems.
The other core focus of this week’s forum is healthcare, which is confronting many of the same issues the world’s education systems are struggling with. The world health ecosystem, patients, providers, funders of care, health agencies and life science organizations collectively face numerous challenges.
They face the challenge of providing access. Only 1.5 billion of the planet’s 6.6 billion people have adequate health coverage today. The demographics are challenging. The developed markets face aging populations, while the developing markets face a growing more expanding middle class and higher birth rates. Both of these ultimately increase demand for healthcare. Costs are increasing dramatically, impacting everyone from patients and providers to the government funders. In many countries, healthcare ranges upwards of 20 percent of general government outlays and is continuing to increase. This is obviously not a long-term tenable situation.
And there’s a global shortage of qualified healthcare workers at virtually every skill level. Healthcare systems have wildly varying quality and as a result it’s difficult to determine where to get the optimal healthcare, or even if you can.
And of course, the consumer has a changing expectation regarding health and wellness. In mature markets people increasingly want to take greater responsibility for their own health and wellness, and the technology, in fact, may allow that to happen.
In fact, all of this is driving what you might think of as a Copernican shift, a shift where the center of the universe is changing. In this case, that transformation is powered by people’s access to information technology. The patient is moving to the center of the healthcare universe and IT is empowering them with the information they need to take control of their own wellbeing.
Advanced software technologies enable a data-driven approach to medicine. I believe that medicine itself will undergo the largest transformation in perhaps 100 years, due to the introduction of many of these digital data-oriented approaches to biology and medicine, and that these should produce new treatments and cures and give us new opportunities to address lifelong wellness.
Software can seamlessly connect a wide range of medical technologies, devices and data sources to give patients, providers and funders a complete picture of health. It also makes it possible for more medical care to be given at home or in small clinics rather than in costly hospitals.
A growing range of online health resources and services will help to cut costs and increase access, particularly in countries that currently lag behind in healthcare. The technologies to make this happen are already emerging. Microsoft itself, for example, is focused on the following areas: the development of a unified business intelligence system that aggregates all types of patient data from hundreds of sources and makes it instantly available at the point of care. This also creates the future database that allows the data driven medicine to be explored in everything from medical resource to novel delivery systems.
We have another project, which many of us call a hospital in a box. It’s an information system technology that provides a fully integrated health information platform. We developed it in conjunction with the Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok, which treats about 1.3 million patients from over 190 countries.
The advantage of this technology for small clinics and hospitals in the future is that they can move from an era where they didn’t have any information technology in a hospital to one where they can have a fully integrated system without requiring them to make a large investment in technical staff. Those of you attending the technical track tomorrow will hear more about this particular project.
And we’ve developed a consumer health platform, an offering which provides a secure shared data repository, an online service for people to collect, gather, store, share and search for their own health information.
Today, these are primarily developed world solutions, but IT will be even more transformative in the developing markets. In fact, IT can significantly flatten global differences in healthcare standards and access. Developing markets can leverage IT to take low cost, data-driven approaches to healthcare from the outset, avoiding many of the mistakes made by developing countries.
We can expect low cost devices, powered by advanced software and partnered up with these type of new online services, to revolutionize diagnosis and care, perhaps even in the most remote villages. Some examples of this are already visible. In Malaysia, for example, many rural villages don’t have access to the breadth of healthcare expertise found in the major cities. The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with Microsoft and Brilliance Information, has built a system called Teleprimary Care that broadens rural access to health experts. Already rolled out to 50 villages, it will eventually reach more than 2,000 rural clinics.
During tomorrow’s closing plenary, I’ll demonstrate what the future of healthcare might look like in both the developed and developing markets.
We know there are no simple answers. Like education, healthcare is an incredibly complex issue and no single entity is going to fix it alone. But by partnering with health organizations and governments around the world, we believe we can help people in every nation live longer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.
I hope this Government Leaders Forum will enable us to dig into all of these issues and to understand a little more deeply how IT can help transform development, education and healthcare.
But to drive IT related innovations and effective IT deployments in all these areas, you also need a supportive public policy environment. Sound public policies provide the framework for innovation and sustainable economic growth. This is particularly important for entrepreneurs, who are the source of new ideas and who are willing to take the kind of risks that result in new product and markets and ultimately a health IT sector.
I look forward to joining the plenary session again tomorrow afternoon with Bill Gates and President Yudhoyono.
I now have the honor to introduce yet another distinguished guest, His Excellency, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, the Secretary General of ASEAN. We’re delighted that Dr. Surin was able to join us today, particularly given all of the challenges with the Myanmar situation, and I know we all look forward to hearing his vision for ASEAN during this historic time for the organization and for the dynamic group of countries it represents.
The opportunities for ASEAN are substantial and yet a number of countries continue to face significant challenges, including a broad and persistent digital divide. This lack of basic access to technology and training continues to widen the gap between communities in terms of quality of life, competitiveness and economic development. Of course, many of these challenges can be overcome only through sustained action at the national level. But organizations like ASEAN also have a crucial role to play. With the recent elaboration of the ASEAN charter, the region is poised to deepen its economic integration and to move more proactively to pursue the shared interests of the member states. At the same time, the ASEAN secretariat is benefiting from the strong leadership of Dr. Surin.
As many of you know, Dr. Surin had a distinguished career prior to joining ASEAN, one that has given him a truly global perspective. His achievements are too lengthy to catalog here, but let me mention just a few. He’s been elected to the Thai Parliament nine times. He’s held several senior roles within Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including being Foreign Minister from 1997 to 2001, and he’s held a number of key positions in United Nations organizations, including the Commission on Human Rights and the International Labor Organization. We are gratified to learn that one of Dr. Surin’s priorities for the ASEAN’s secretariat is to establish closer ties and collaboration with the private sector.
Microsoft is pleased to have partnered with the secretariat on a number of projects in the past, and we’ve had successful collaborations in areas around trade facilitation and computer security. We look forward to continuing and even expanding these partnerships in the future. Please join me in welcoming His Excellency, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General, ASEAN. (Applause.)
H.E. DR. SURIN PITSUWAN: Excellency Aburizal Bakrie, Coordinating Minister of People Welfare, the Republic of Indonesia, Mr. Emilio Umeoka, President of Microsoft Asia Pacific, Craig Mundie, Chief Research Strategy Officer, Microsoft, Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentleman, let me also join the previous speakers in extending our deepest condolences to the victims of the cyclone which hit the delta of the Irrawaddy river last weekend.
I think the Government of Indonesia deserves our appreciation for extending help quickly, forcefully and generously. I would invite you all to give a round of applause to the $1 million and three Hercules loads into Myanmar, already as announced by the Prime Minister earlier. (Applause.)
And to Microsoft, Craig Mundie, ASEAN thanks Microsoft very, very much for your compassion, for your care, and we’re certainly are looking for your positive decision when you say you are looking for ways to help our Myanmese colleagues who are now suffering.
It is the transformation power of IT technology that we are talking about, driven by Microsoft. But can you imagine in the year 2004, the Boxing Day, when tsunami hit all countries around the Indian Ocean rim. People in Hawaii knew that a big, big tsunami was coming ashore. But you know what happened? They didn’t have the phone numbers to call and warn those countries.
This time there is something called the Cyclone Center. But again, the Indian Ocean Rim, the Banko bay has been left out, not part of the system. In spite of the technology that we have, in spite of the power that we have, in spite of the network that we have, we still lose lives senselessly.
So, it is more than just the power of the technology. It is more than just a transformation of society through technology. It is certainly a shift of paradigm here in the minds of our people, particularly our leaders. Because if you don’t have that shift, millions and billions of technology cannot deliver effective, timely services to the people when they need it most.
Because we have reservations about opening up our borders for cooperation, because we have hesitation about cooperating with the outside world, because we have mistrust of the outside world in spite of all resources and technology that we have at our disposal, we cannot solve humanity’s problems.
Here in ASEAN, what I would call a collective effort to manage both the positive impact of globalization and also to cushion the negative impact of integration and globalization, driven by IT information technology.
We all think about integration and globalization as delivering all the good things from the world to all of us. We think globalization is like a rising tide, lifting all boats including small fishing boats in fishing communities along the ocean. The reality is not that. The reality is only big ships, only expensive yachts are being lifted by the waves of globalization and integration. So, integration brings with it both the opportunities and the challenges. They expose us to each other’s problems more than before.
So, we need to really think clearly how to manage the forces of globalization and the opportunities brought about by integration. And I think IT, Microsoft, is certainly in the forefront of this research, this analysis and the attempt to set up a system that would allow all of us to manage well and manage better than in the past.
ASEAN comprises of 10 countries, 567 million people. We have been in existence for the last 40 years. Yes, we have the charter for the first time, and I hope we have the support of the Indonesian Parliament to ratify it, Bakrie. When we have the ratification full, it will be a rather formidable force to contend with the world, to cooperate with the world, and to compete with the world with competence and with dignity.
Statistics are very, very appealing. Combined GDP is over $1 trillion U.S. Combined foreign trade is over $1.4 trillion U.S., and we are situated between the two giants, emerging economies driving the world and the global economy of the world now, China and India. We are about half of each.
So, it is a miracle in the making. And I think we are attracting attention from around the world, including Microsoft, that this will be a very, very lucrative market for the private sector, for the international business community worldwide. Just imagine, 20 to 30 years from now we can turn one-third of our population by that time, the year 2030 to 2035, one-third, almost $300 million into full middle class. Imagine the purchasing power. Imagine the lifestyle that would be conducive for all consumer goods, including computer software. Imagine the demand for participation in government affairs. Imagine the demand and the cry for accountability and transparency in the region.
We are indeed on the road to another miracle here in the region. And I am glad that our leaders see this. Our leaders recognize this. Our leaders realize that we have given birth to many other architectures in the region, EPIC in 1989 — 1989, yes; ASIM with the Europeans; ASEAN plus three with all the three countries in East Asia imported to us, China, Japan and South Korea; ASEAN plus six, plus India, plus Australia, plus New Zealand. We have given birth to those organizations because they too recognize that we are emerging as a center of gravity here in East Asia.
But we have to do more. We are now putting our own house in order. We have been given forum and fora to the leaders of Japan and China; they are now getting together without us. We have given forum and fora to India and China; they are now getting together without us. We feel a bit insecure that we are being not marginalized; therefore, the charter. It’s for the first time going to give us our legal personality with the headquarters here in Jakarta, in the Republic of Indonesia. Thank you very much, Jakarta. (Applause.)
We are negotiating trade deals, FTAs, already finished with China, finished with Japan, finished with South Korea; India, Australia, New Zealand by August.
The U.S. is ongoing. The E.U. is ongoing. We will be integrated with the economic centers of the world on our own right, in our own capacity, with pride, with dignity and with confidence.
Millennium Development Goals, I’m glad to report to you we passed all of them. We are now talking about MDGs Plus, meaning we can do better than the Millennium Development Goal set for the global community in the year 2000 by the world’s leaders. That is no small achievement.
But we still have our inequalities, as Craig Mundie mentioned. We still have gaps. We still have discrepancies. You wouldn’t believe it. The poorest among us spend $209 per capita. The richest among us — I won’t mention names — $50,000 U.S. per capita. That gap is dangerous and we know it. That gap is important to bridge and we know it, and we hope Microsoft can provide us with some advice, with some encouragement and with support.
I don’t feel too comfortable up here because of all these gadgets. I have my own digital gap with the leadership of Microsoft. But I’m learning, much as Mr. Gates said in Davos last January, and being unemployed, but I am learning and learning how to spend the money.
There are a lot of opportunities here that your corporate social responsibility can be put to good use. And I would like to just challenge you that it is no longer corporate social responsibility, not CSR, any longer for a company like Microsoft. What you have been doing in Europe, here, in Latin America called the Government Leaders Forum, every region, I think you too, Mr. President, Mr. Mundie, realize that you are now stepping into corporate regional responsibility. Further, if you string all these things together, you are now embarking on something no other corporations in the world could do, and that is corporate global responsibility.
Bill Gates said, again in Davos last January — I was privileged to be there and listen to him — what we want for the world is a new thinking, is a new system of thought. It’s a new initiative to harness the power of entrepreneurship, the power of capitalism and he called it creative capitalism. I guess it means capitalism with heart, capitalism with compassion, capitalism with care.
Here, in Southeast Asia we too are embarking on building our own ASEAN community by the year 2015. We are building our socio-cultural community. We are building our economic community. We are building our political and security community in order to weave a new structure called ASEAN Community by the year 2015.
We need all the creativity. We need all the help. We need all the support. We certainly want to use and take advantage of the transformation power of IT. But we also want IT with a heart. We certainly don’t want to train our children in the gadgets of the new technology, learning how to play games with the Internet, with the computers and turn out to be cyber-addicts. In many, many of the Internet Cafes in Bangkok — I’m sure here, I’m sure in many capitals of ASEAN, there are so many children under age who are cyber-addicts. One hour 10 bahd, 30 cent U.S., and if you have the endurance to stay there in front of that computer screen more than 5 hours, you will have one extra hour free. Imagine the kind of transformation that IT has made to those kids.
If we don’t have that mindset with compassion, with sympathy, with understanding to also guide them with good and qualified teachers, you know what we will have? We will have what Mahatma Ghandi once admonished us. He said, decades ago, “We run the risk of bringing up a new generation of sinful people who have knowledge but no character, who prosper in commerce without morality, who pursue science without humanity, and engage in politics without principle.”
Can we use the transformation of power of IT to create character, to instill morality, to rekindle that sense of humanity in every heart of our children and to ask our politicians to have principle?
If we are not careful, the transformation power of IT can be abused, can be exploited and certainly can do damage very, very heavily. We have to be mindful of that, too.
So, creative regionalism that we want to build here, along with what Bill Gates calls creative capitalism — and I certainly would like to call him, to ask him tomorrow, where did he get that idea, because he dropped out from Harvard. I finished Harvard. (Laughter.) But, if I knew that dropping out you could make billions and billions, I probably would have followed you. (Laughter.)
But you see Charles Darwin talk about the theory of evolution, survival of the fittest. Only physical survival; that was Charles Darwin. Someone came along in France by the name of Henri Bergson — or Henri Bergson [French accent], who said, “For human beings as a species to survive it is not just physical survival.” It is not just evolution to survive. It has to be a creative evolution. I suspect a Harvard dropout also reads Bergson.
So, you want to create a system that has heart, that has morality, that has care, that has compassion. We are doing a similar thing we call our community building here creative regionalism, and we invite all to come and join us in this endeavor, transformative endeavor for the region for 567 million people now, and just imagine, if we 10 countries, almost 600 million people can take care of ourselves, can succeed, can achieve what we aspire for, what our founding fathers dreamed of 40 years ago, the world will have one less region to worry about.
You have enough problems around the world. Help us succeed. We will be one less region to worry about.
But we have to shift. We have to transform ourselves. We have to rethink our old ways of doing things.
For many people in this room from Indonesia, let me end by quoting a dictum from someone many of you in this room probably are familiar with, but he is ageless and he is cross-cultural. His name is Jalaluddin Rumi, a Muslim Mystic, poet back in the 12th to 13th century, Anatolia, Turkina.
At that time, he surveyed his terrain, his landscape and he saw a lot of commotion, particularly after the invasion of the Mongols. He said, our problem at that time was not being able to transcend our own selves and our own age of tradition and thinking. He surveyed the landscape in front of him, full of conflicts, full of tension, full of conservatism, full of hesitation, full of old thinking. Any sciences that were produced was produced to sustain the powers that be rather than to equalize the societies that it should be doing. He said, merchants of all goods are gone. Old ideas are obsolete. He said we are the new vendors. We better come up with new ideas. We better come up with new paradigms. We better come up with new thinking.
What Bill Gates has contributed to the debate of the world now, creative capitalism, what we are trying to do now, creative regionalism, Rumi said, we are the new vendors, he said, this is our bazaar; no ones else. This generation bazaar, this government leaders bazaar, our bazaar in the region across the world, this is our bazaar. We better have new ideas. We better have new mindsets. We better have new initiatives with heart, with morality, with humanity, and I hope with love.
Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)
EMILIO UMEOKA: Thank you. Thank you so very much Dr. Surin for your most enlightening remarks on the challenges that we’re facing in the world, but also the great opportunities that we have ahead of us.
It is, of course, a very exciting time for the 560 million people in ASEAN and I’m very sure that the secretariat and the region as a whole will benefit from your strong leadership. For our part, Microsoft is pleased to be partnering with your organization as we pursue our shared objective of improving lives and creating opportunities for the people across the ASEAN region.
Ladies and gentleman, that concludes our first session which I hope you found, not only interesting, but thought-provoking. I invite you all to enjoy the refreshments outside and we will resume at 10:45. Thank you very much. (Applause.)