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We Are The Change, Say ASEAN Youths

Delegates bid farewell to YMAC 2015 with a pledge to act on their ideas


The line in the theme song got the audience to sing “Our voices today will be echoes tomorrow.” That summed up the sentiment felt by many delegates at the closing of the Youth Model ASEAN Conference (YMAC) on 8 October 2015 held at Singapore Polytechnic. The finale saw participants from 10 ASEAN countries holding hands as they sang the song.

From 5-8 October, 200 of them were in Singapore to discuss issues concerning ASEAN. They were grouped into various committees under five themes – Environment, Economics, Society, Security, and Technology. From each committee, one delegate was crowned ‘Best Delegate’. One of the winners was Clarence Ong, 19, from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

He said: “It’s very surprising, I feel very honoured to have the opportunity to speak up. I think it’s about the enthusiasm you bring into the discussion, especially how coherent your speech is.”

“When you come forward to speak during sessions, you must speak with passion, so that you can communicate with your peers. I see the award as a recognition of my public speaking skills,” Clarence added.

Clarence Teo conducted extensive research on the Philippines to prepare for his role in YMAC

That’s also how his co-winner, Qusyairi Zaki, feels.

The 21-year-old student from University Brunei Darussalam said: “Since English is not my first language, YMAC has made me more confident and allowed me to improve on my speaking skills. Being elected for a briefing with the Guest-of-Honour and being awarded Best Delegate for Cyber Security was one of the highlights of my YMAC journey.”

Qusyairi Zaki (right) feels that YMAC is a unique way to negotiate and talk about things that are sensitive to all ASEAN countries.

Many delegates also had their favourite YMAC moments.

Raudhatun Nasrah Hj Sahrani, 22, from Institute Technology Brunei described her YMAC experience as “fan-amazing – fantastic and amazing”.

She enjoyed meeting her peers from the region because YMAC is a “good experience for Southeast Asians to share their culture and get to know how they are, how they think.”


Recipients of the ‘Best Delegate’ title under the different categories receive their award from Guest-of-Honour Josephine Teo (fourth from right). 

Lan Anh, 19, an international student from Vietnam who studies at Temasek Polytechnic, agrees.

She said: “Fostering friendships with other ASEAN youth was very memorable. Through just four days and three nights, I managed to ‘travel’ around the world, learn about other cultures, and make new friends.”

Lan Anh also enjoyed discussing and role playing in what she calls, a “political position”. Finding solutions together has helped her gain a deeper understanding of ASEAN.

Guest-of-Honour Josephine Teo urged delegates to continue collaborating and learn from one another, with “a spirit of respectfulness, and wanting to achieve something together.”

The Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office said YMAC is “a prime example of how we can take ASEAN forward.”

Speaking at the dialogue session which was part of the Closing Ceremony, Mrs Teo said what brings ASEAN together is “the common desire, the common objective, of allowing our people to develop to their fullest potential, and how to make it happen for all of us in ASEAN.”

“I would say that we’re off to a very good start. What a wonderful way to have connected with one another.”


Article and photos by Winnie Goh and Mildred Ang

Year 2 students, Diploma in Creative Writing for TV and New Media