KUALA LUMPUR, 30 Oct 2008: Asian governments must practise the principle of inclusiveness, where no segment of society is disrespected, discredited and disenfranchised, says Raja Nazrin Shah.
The Raja Muda of Perak said the best way to express the principle of inclusiveness was through the practice of empowerment, a precondition for an integrated and progressive Asia.
“We can no longer afford to formulate policies, laws and regulations on a discriminatory basis and in an ethical vacuum.
“The consequence of not empowering citizens or, worse, disempowering them, is to create a deep sense of alienation and hostility,” he said.
Raja Nazrin also said the practice of disregarding certain groups of citizens was “bad and insensitive politics” and it would give the people every reason to divide society to redress their dissatisfaction.
“On another level, we cannot morally turn our backs on the fundamental responsibility of ensuring that all stakeholders in our society, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, have a place under the sun,” he said while delivering a special plenary address at the 21st Lawasia Conference 2008 here today.
The theme of the conference, from 29 Oct to 1 Nov, is Challenging Asia.
Raja Nazrin also gave five suggestions that could drive both the connecting and empowerment of Asia, which included strengthening the rule of law, greater political participation and the reform of societal “software”.
To change societal “software”, he said values and beliefs must be changed and desirable behaviour such as entrepreneurship and innovation must be rewarded. He added that undesirable behaviour such as corruption and abuse of power must be penalised.
The other two areas were technology, especially information and communication technology, and education, which would break the chains of oppressive traditions and extremism, he said.
Earlier in his speech, Raja Nazrin also touched on the current global economic crisis.
He said, as a prime beneficiary of its integration with the world at large, Asian countries must step up to the plate and demonstrate ownership of the world’s current financial problems.
“They cannot afford to shy away from their responsibilities of contributing solutions,” he said.
However, Raja Nazrin believed that Asian countries could get through the difficulties given their past “enterprise, ingenuity and dogged determination”.
“Asia’s economic weight in world affairs is growing and this structural shift if unlikely to be halted by the highly damaging events of the current financial meltdown,” he said.