Posted on 2006

4th International Conference of Asian Political Parties
Seoul, Republic of Korea

By Senate President Manny Villar
Senate of the Philippines
President of the Nacionalista Party of the Philippines

On behalf of the Nacionalista Party of the Philippines, I extend warm fraternal greetings to the URI Party of the Republic of Korea and to the other political parties in Asia that are ably represented by their leaders in this 4th International Conference of Asian Political Parties.

It is to the credit of the leaders as well as the members of the political parties in Asia that the momentum has been sustained in forging greater cooperation among key stakeholders in the region towards regional peace and prosperity. Our shared vision of creating a better future for all has made it possible to hold the 4th ICAPP Conference in the modern and progressive capital of the Republic of Korea.

The International Conference of Asian Political Parties is proving to be an effective instrument in promoting a culture of cooperation and consensus building among ourselves in Asia.  This ideal has been well articulated and affirmed in previous conferences in Manila, Bangkok and Beijing.  This conference here in Seoul will break new ground in translating the spirit of partnership into a framework for achieving peace and prosperity in Asia.

As we focus on the theme of the conference and how we can relate our respective political parties to this overriding goal, it is important to take a closer look at the world today to make a proper realignment of our priorities and responses.

When a great number of political parties in Asia were formed, the whole world was a battleground of two competing ideologies.  Countries were divided into respective spheres of influence of the leading superpowers.  There were fixed borders.  Barriers were placed that separated and alienated peoples.  We recall the Berlin Well, the Iron Curtain and the Bamboo Curtain.

With breakthroughs in communications,  transportation   and the emergence of Information Technology, the whole landscape changed dramatically.  Computers created a knowledge society.  The resulting information explosion became a vehicle for empowerment leading to a shift in the location of political and economic power.

Indeed, all points in our fragile planet has become so interconnected that no event anywhere is so remote that it has no repercussions everywhere.  An armed conflict in the Middle East has serious implications for stability in the supply and distribution of oil.  Any disturbance in the price of this most vital commodity sends negative signals to the monitors of economic movements and currency exchange rates.

While we welcome the Global Village with its borderless trading regime, we cannot ignore the challenges that it presents.  A globalized economy means that only those with a competitive edge or a comparative advantage win.  Only the best survives.  But how many countries qualify to be the best in certain fields?  In the absence of a level playing field for all, the weak will suffer more.  In the process, resentment and frustrations are engendered, thereby inviting violence.

It is also in the context of an interconnected world that the spectre of terrorism becomes a global threat.  The crosshair of terrorists does distinguish between a rich and a poor target.

No country and people are safe.  No city is secure from the global terrorists.  The principals and their agents are swarming worldwide. We are all potential victims.

The state of the world today has urgent implications for political parties in Asia.  The new global picture presents new challenges. We are traveling over unfamiliar terrain, we are sailing through uncharted waters.  The environment we all live in requires new responses.  We need to recast our mindsets because the parameters of what we must do have changed.

We can start by revisiting our respective party platforms to find out if they are still relevant to present day realities.  How do our priorities and strategies address the social, political and economic demands not only of our countries but also of Asia as a whole?

A new map is necessary.  We must identify new passage ways and corridors.

Peace and prosperity are the twin pillars of a nation and peoples all over the world. But we know that a nation can only attain the goal of prosperity only in an atmosphere of peace among nations.

We must double our efforts to expand the climate that is conducive to peace in our region.  We have to use our moral suasion as well as our political leverage to promote without fail the peaceful resolution of any conflict.  Towards this end, more people-to-people contacts must be encouraged and regular dialogues between business and political leaders should be institutionalized.

It will be helpful to look deeper into the root causes of terrorism in order to understand its psychological and historical premises.  The experiences of many countries show that a purely military approach to terrorism never works.

Peace, however does not exist in a vacuum.  It becomes viable only in a framework of prosperity.

Our shared dream of seeing prosperity in Asia cannot ignore the dynamics of a globalized economy where weak countries are forced to compete with the strong.  Competition cannot be ruled out in a borderless trading order.  But neither must complementation be ignored.  We must use our spheres of influence to establish facilities for making complementation possible and realizable.

Regional prosperity is best achieved through a greater sharing of resources, technologies, experiences and competencies to protect the environment, combat borderless diseases, reduce illiteracy and alleviate poverty.

Political parties are in the best position to achieve the objectives of the 4th International Conference of Asian Political Parties as well as those of the previous conferences.  We can serve as catalysts to help bring about a popular attitude that affirms peace even as it values innovation, quality and productivity.

On the wings of our shared goals, and our common vision, not only can we build a community of harmonious and economically progressive nations, but usher in an era of enduring peace and prosperity in Asia.

Thank you.

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