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Asia Pacific Parliamentarians Address ILC2020

Asia Pacific—The International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) hosted Session Three of the ILC2020—Asia Pacific, held on September 11, 2020. Five current and former parliamentarians from five nations (Indonesia, Korea, Nepal, Fiji, Tuvalu) and a former government minister from Japan shared their perspectives on the theme, “Opportunity and Hope at a Time of Global Crisis: Role of Parliamentarians.”

The moderator of the session, Mr. Santosh Kumar Paudel, chairman of UPF and the IAPP in the Asia Pacific, welcomed all the participants and introduced the speakers. Opening remarks were given by Dr. Michael Jenkins, president of UPF International and international coordinator of the IAPP

Hon. Dr. Agung Laksono, former speaker of the People’s Representative Council, Indonesia, spoke about the importance of parliamentarians and government leaders in these difficult times. He commended UPF co-founder, Dr. Hak Ja Moon, for her wisdom to convene a virtual summit at this juncture in history. To bring world leaders, not only from government but also from all different sectors of society is an ingenious idea. He highlighted Indonesia’s role as a mediator in domestic as well as in regional and international conflicts. As Indonesia’s state ideology of Pancasila is similar to UPF’s Principles of Peace, the framework has allowed Indonesia, a diverse nation with a population just over 267 million, to overcome sectarian and divisive efforts. The former speaker commended the idea to form an Asia Pacific Union, which will be a broad-based body that draws together like-minded individuals and organizations from among the community of Asian nations to address common challenges facing the region.

Hon. Samuelu P. Teo, speaker of the Parliament of Tuvalu, shared that while Tuvalu remains free of COVID-19 infections, when  a positive case was confirmed in Fiji, which is the main point for Tuvalu’s flights and boats, Tuvalu’s interconnectedness with neighboring nations and the affect that could have on the country came to fore. Hon. Teo mentioned that as of April 3, 2020, there had been no COVID-19 cases in the country and that the possibility that Tuvalu will remain free of the pandemic is very favorable. He also said that parliamentarians need to maintain and enforce the rules while remaining focused, steady, patient and fair and need to help others to learn and to keep learning. Importantly, he found favor in the conference theme’s three values with corresponding Bible verses.

Interdependence is two or more working together, which reminds me of Matthew 18:20 (KJV), “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Interdependence provides support to individuals allowing them the strength to support others and to focus on their own personal growth. Individuals who are interdependent will reap the rewards immediately. Anyone will achieve more success and happiness when they are connected to those around them.

Mutual prosperity is the means by which everyone grows and prospers together, a win-win outcome which reminds me of Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV), “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

A value is a universal value if it has the same value or worth for all, and this reminds me of 1 John 4:8 (NKJV), “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” With parents and students spending more time at home, they are participating in activities such as fishing and farming together that strengthen the family bonds of love. The family is the cornerstone of our society. So with happy families, we have a happy Tuvalu.

Hon. Veena Bhatnagar, deputy speaker of the Parliament of Fiji, emphasized fortifying the vision of “One Family Under God” at this crucial time. In gaining wisdom from the great faith and moral traditions, we can use the basic values that we universally share to find solutions. The deputy speaker also mentioned that parliamentarians are also front liners in the pandemic and that if they uphold the highest standards of leadership, it will have a positive impact on the local, national and global level. “Compassion at a time of crisis is a very important manifestation of this leadership,” she said, and added that the virus “does not differentiate between rich and poor, strong and weak, developed and developing nations.” She cited that many rich, powerful, developed nations have been impacted by the virus more than many poor and less powerful nations. She also commended the country’s prime minister for his wise leadership in dealing with the pandemic and to focus on their objective for this, which is to save lives.

Hon. Katsumasa Suzuki, former vice minister of internal affairs and communication, government of Japan, highlighted that “stronger unity than before is required” to overcome the crisis. He encouraged parliamentarians to interact across countries and pursue a new philosophy that transcends borders. He said that there should be an international system that can allow nations to cooperate beyond borders at the same time maintain their national sovereignty. He applauded Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon’s philosophy of pursuing harmonious relationships and resolving relationships.

Hon. Gyuhwan Kim, former National Assembly member, Republic of Korea, highlighted that while people are avoiding personal contact, in the online world, people have an opportunity to express their opinions widely and to unite and speak in one voice, transcending time and space. He cited three things lawmakers can contribute to for creating a peaceful global community: 1.) Strengthen the role of the United Nations in the new world order in this new era and support the IAPP to become a global partner that can contribute to building trust between countries. 2.) Seek opinions from lawmakers in the region that can contribute to the peaceful reunification of Korea, which is the only divided country in the world today. Hon. Kim said that he is greatly supportive of the efforts of the Peace Road for the reunification of North and South Korea. 3.) Support the launch of a campaign that urges lawmakers to solve global problems such as climate change, global warming and environmental pollution. Hon. Kim hopes that fellow lawmakers will educate and lead the people with a vision of co-prosperity for the entire Asia Pacific region which now has the largest population in the world.

Hon. Chitralekha Yadav, member of parliament and former deputy speaker and minister, Nepal, spoke about the current situation in her country and said public awareness and knowledge initiatives about preventing the pandemic are needed. Hon. Yadav highlighted that another problem, aside from the pandemic, is climate change. As the Himalayan glaciers melt due to global warming, the South Asia region is at risk of a catastrophe. She urged decision makers to change their fundamental beliefs and urgently educate people to safeguard the natural environment.  In this current situation, there is potential for a wide range of opportunities to produce innovative ideas and policies for sustainable human development. She commended UPF’s willingness to address such issues to promote realistic solutions and nations to join together to safeguard human lives and civilization.

Dr. Michael Jenkins, president of UPF International and international coordinator of the IAPP, conveyed greetings on behalf of IAPP international co-chairmen, former U.S. congressman, Hon. Dan Burton from the U.S., and former speaker of the House of the Philippines, Hon. Jose de Venecia, Jr. He said that “they both believe that the parliamentarians, when united in cooperation, can become a very powerful voice because they represent the people.”

He said that through collaboration, parliamentarians will have influence in resolving conflicts in the Middle East and ending the conflict in Korea. He also discussed that one possible project of IAPP members could be the creation, through their informal network, of a global pandemic early-warning communication system to detect and call attention to the earliest observances of illnesses that have the potential to spread globally. When COVID-19 was first reported to the World Health Organization on December 31, 2019, it took them more than a month to declare it a pandemic, which they did on March 11, 2020.

To go back to the executive summary for the Asia Pacific ILC, click here.

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