ASEAN is a region with diverse value systems, geopolitical and social differences, as well as wide economic disparities. While such diversity has been a competitive edge for the region by offering a wealth of differing perspectives, it has also proven to be a source of challenge in creating a cohesive ASEAN identity. .
This topic was discussed at length during an inaugural webinar organised by the ASEAN University Network (AUN) on 28 January 2021. More than 1,000 representatives comprising academics and industry practitioners from the ASEAN+3 member universities attended the session, themed Practical Ethics in a Diverse ASEAN: New Challenges and Priorities for Action. The webinar aimed to discuss the challenges of ethics within the ASEAN region in many areas due to differing value systems, and to foster a common understanding for promoting collaborations.
Dr Paul Lim, lecturer of Organisational Behavior & Human Resource from the SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business was one of six invited speakers at the webinar. In line with SMU Vision 2025’s Strategic Priority of Growth in Asia, where the University seeks to demonstrate its thought leadership in the deep understanding of Asia’s economy, polity and society, Dr Lim offered his insights on mobilising youths across ASEAN nations to further the spirit of collaboration.
“ASEAN’s youths do not have emotional, political baggage that traditional and experienced leaders possess. We should allow them to share ideas and collaborate ASEAN wide. I would not pretend to completely understand our youth – we don’t. But if we spend time understanding them, and them with us, we will learn that old ways and ideas may not work for future challenges,” said Dr Lim. “Moving forward, it will take humility and spirit of learning on all parties. But I would urge organisations and governments to let our youths show us the way forward – it is our ethical duty to do so.”
Speaking from his experience in the higher education sector, the Executive Director of AUN, Dr Choltis Dhirathiti shared his observations that ethics are part of most universities' vision, mission and core values. Many degree programmes aim to inculcate graduates with ethics, and the challenge is to extend the good intention to the workplace upon the students' graduation.
Other speakers from international universities included two Ethics experts, an AUN leader, an ASEAN NGO founder, chairman of the international human rights reporting standards foundation and a postgraduate student from Harvard University, who shared their perspectives with the audience.
Click here to view the insights shared by Dr Lim and his fellow speakers, on ASEAN-related ethics issues, challenges, and proposals for collaboration on initiatives.