Excellency Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore,
Excellency Le Loung Minh, ASEAN Secretary-General,
Excellency Mario G. Montejo, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology of the Republic of the Philippines, and 12th TELMIN Chair,
Excellency Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister of Communications & Information, Republic of Singapore, and incoming 13th TELMIN Chair,
Excellencies, Ministers of IT and Telecommunications from other ASEAN Member Countries and Dialogue Partners,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honour and a real pleasure to join you at this eminent meeting, and to have the opportunity to say a few words on the great importance ITU accords to the long-standing and strong relationship with ASEAN and its individual member countries.
Four of our 48 ITU Council Members are from ASEAN, and we truly appreciate their active participation and contributions as representatives of Region E in the Union’s governing body between Plenipotentiary Conferences.
Several ASEAN countries have been excellent hosts for major ITU events, and although time constraints limit me from being exhaustive, let me single out the Asia-Pacific Centres of Excellence trainings, which are jointly organized by ITU and CoE nodes, of which five are effectively managed by partners in three ASEAN countries. For that we are truly grateful.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I applaud the Telecommunications and IT Ministers for choosing ‘Connecting Communities, Co-Creating Possibilities’ as the theme for the 13th TELMIN.
The theme resonates very closely with us at ITU, as our mission is to connect all the world’s people, wherever they live, and whatever their circumstances.
With the continuing support of our ASEAN members, as well as other partners and stakeholders, we are working to ensure that ICTs are recognized at the highest level as a powerful tool for social and economic development – both as an important accelerator in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and as a key component of the post-2015 development agenda.
This is important for the ASEAN Economic Community, as it moves ahead with its vision for a single market and production base to be established by the ten economies of ASEAN by 2015, with the goal of promoting equitable economic development for Member States, as well as facilitating their integration into the global community.
I am sure I am not alone here in believing that the power of ICTs in connecting communities will play a critical role in facilitating the achievement of this vision. Indeed, let me cite your own 2015 ICT Masterplan, which says quite rightly that ‘We go higher when we are connected.”
It is very important when ‘connecting communities’, to remember that this means connecting everyone.
So there needs to be a viable business case for connecting the last 5 to 10%, and there need to be plans in place to ensure that persons with disabilities, women, youth, minorities, and other potentially disadvantaged groups are also connected.
The second part of TELMIN’s theme, ‘Co-Creating Possibilities’, links very well to the theme of the ITU Connect Asia-Pacific Summit taking place next Monday in Bangkok, which is: ‘Asia-Pacific 2020 – Smartly DIGITAL’.
The word ‘DIGITAL’ here is an acronym for ‘Digital Inclusive Green Innovative Transformative Affordable Living’, which envisions an Asia-Pacific region where ‘everyone can access, use, create, and share information and knowledge to empower individuals, communities, industries and countries to achieve inclusive sustainable development goals and improve their quality of life.’
In closing my brief remarks this morning, let me say how much I am looking forward to our discussions and the positive outcomes of this meeting, and how much I am looking forward to welcoming you to Bangkok next week – both for the ITU Connect Asia-Pacific Summit on Monday, and for the ITU Telecom World 2013 event which follows from 19 to 22 November.
In the meantime let me reiterate ITU’s continuing commitment to work with all of you on ‘connecting communities’, and ‘co-creating possibilities’.
Thank you for your attention.