Cut out bureaucracy, be inclusive to harness young talent, says Hannah Yeoh

Hannah Yeoh speaking at the plenary session themed ‘We Are the Future: Progress and Possibility in the Asia Pacific’ of the Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia Pacific Programme in Kuala Lumpur December 10, 2019. — Bernama pic
Hannah Yeoh speaking at the plenary session themed ‘We Are the Future: Progress and Possibility in the Asia Pacific’ of the Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia Pacific Programme in Kuala Lumpur December 10, 2019. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — For young leaders in Asia-Pacific to expose their hidden talent and real capability on the world stage, they must be included in the system of processes relevant to their development, according to Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh.

She said bureaucracy or red tape should be cut to the minimum to enable young leaders to manifest their leadership qualities. 

“Cut out bureaucracy if possible and also be more inclusive so that you can start tapping or harnessing their talent. Identify the things that shut people out from the system of processes that you are working on and encourage them to come in.”

At a plenary session titled, ‘We Are the Future: Progress and Possibility in the Asia-Pacific’, held in conjunction with the inaugural Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia-Pacific Programme, she noted that more than 60 per cent of the world population resides in Asia-Pacific.

Asia-Pacific, she pointed out, offered a big pool of potential young leaders with huge talents.

“We need to learn to celebrate diversity really well in this area. One of the things that you can do to facilitate growth is, in your sphere of influence, always be mindful about removing barriers to encourage greater participation of the people you work with,” she stressed.

The programme organised by the Obama Foundation brought together 200 rising leaders from 33 nations and territories across the region.

Other panellists during the session were Taiwan-based Miniwiz Co Ltd founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Arthur Huang and Green Climate Fund external affairs director Dr Oyun Saanjasuren. The moderator was Aaron Maniam, a member of the Singapore Administrative Service.

Meanwhile, Yeoh said given the region’s demographic diversity, arguments related to racial and religious differences on a daily basis were almost inevitable in managing the different communities.

However, she said such kinds of crisis could actually present an opportunity to show success stories and show to the rest of the world how to “do it right”.

“For example, how New Zealand responded to the Christchurch shooting incident (March 15, 2019). Their prime minister Jacinda Ardern did very well in managing the crisis and helping the nation heal,” she said.

The deputy minister said she was positively anticipating the future in terms of women and youth empowerment in Asia-Pacific considering the global trend of women leadership in politics, business and sports.

In this regard, she cited Ardern, who was elected prime minister of New Zealand when she was just 37 years old, as a good example for politics, and Malaysia’s own squash queen and world champion for nine years Datuk Nicol Ann David.

Yeoh further noted the growing number of young businessmen who had made a name for themselves, including Grab group CEO and founder Anthony Tan, and former GoJek CEO and Indonesia’s Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim.

“I am very optimistic about what this region can offer to the world. What I am pessimistic about is the fact that we need to play catch up game with the speed of social media. We need to start equipping our children and young people to cope with it.

“Because in Asia everything happens so fast with evolving technology from China, Japan and South Korea. Can our children and future generation catch up? Can our values catch up with this trend?

“I feel that every nation needs to start empowering the young people or at least provide some kind of safety system to help them cope with the speed that we are in,” she added. — Bernama

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