Chargé Syptak-Ramnath’s Remarks at the Opening Plenary Presentation of the 2018 YSEALI Summit

Chargé Syptak-Ramnath’s Remarks at the Opening Plenary Presentation of the 2018 YSEALI Summit
Monday, December 3, 2018 at 8:00 a.m.

Good morning and welcome to the 2018 YSEALI Summit. We are honored to be joined by Mr.  Baey Yam Keng, the Senior Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Mr. Brooks Entwistle, a Trustee of The Asia Foundation, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Ambassador Jennifer Galt.  I am happy to share that Ambassador Galt and I have been friends for many years, having met in an early-morning French class at the Department of State.  It just goes to show you how small the world is, and how talented she is as a multilingual diplomat who has served around this region and the world.  Our deepest thanks, Ambassador, for making the long trip from Washington, DC to be with us this week.

A very special thank you to Allyson Coyne, Ian Yip, and the Public Affairs staff at the U.S. Embassy who have been working hand in hand with colleagues from Washington D.C., the U.S. Mission to ASEAN, and U.S. Embassies from each ASEAN country, along with David Kim and his team at The Asia Foundation to bring all of you here today. Our deepest gratitude for their hard work in preparing such an enriching agenda and experience for each one of you.

And, finally, thank you to each of our 125 YSEALI alumni, entrepreneurs and change-makers present here today.  You have already given so much of yourself to the YSEALI program or other of our US government exchange programs, and we are grateful for the sharing of your talent, energy, and vision for a better region and a better world.

Singapore is the perfect place for us to participate in a summit entitled The United States and ASEAN: Partners in Growth and Innovation.  Americans have been living and working in Singapore since the 1800s, and our strong bilateral ties across the economic and security spheres have enabled both of our countries to grow and innovate together.

The same is true for American partnership across Southeast Asia and with ASEAN, which we were honored to highlight during this year of Singapore’s Chairmanship. The United States was the very first non-ASEAN country to name an Ambassador to ASEAN in 2008.  And in June 2010, the United States became the first non-ASEAN country to establish a dedicated Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta.  That’s because we understood then, and we understand now, how deeply intertwined our futures are.

This shared future depends on growth and innovation.  Not just the well-documented and often-cited exponential growth in population, internet penetration, and urbanization that is taking place.  But growth in understanding, respect, and partnership.  And not just innovation in ways to make money, but innovation in finding solutions to our shared challenges and in making a better world for our children and grandchildren.

As many of you know, Vice President Pence was recently in the region for the ASEAN, EAS, and APEC summits. During that time, he spoke eloquently about our nation’s vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, one in in which all nations, large and small, can prosper and thrive — secure in sovereignty, confident in our values, and growing stronger together.

That’s why it is such an honor to welcome all of you here today – because we know that we share principles, interests, and a commitment to helping each other succeed no matter what your field of interest or expertise. We also share the belief that we are stronger when we work together as equals and friends. These next few days are a perfect moment for you to make new friends and build more collaborations.  And we look forward to the Innovation Slam competition where we will have a chance to see these new partnerships in action.

While he was in the region, the Vice President announced numerous initiatives, including a new U.S.-ASEAN Smart Cities Partnership that will spur renewed American investment in the region’s digital infrastructure, advancing growth, innovation, and prosperity in Southeast Asia.  But we realize that the most critical investment we can make in any global city is in the development of young leaders like you who will be crucial to guiding communities and nations to a peaceful and prosperous future.

You live in exciting times.  Thanks to your extensive human and digital networks, you have more power to shape the future than any generation that preceded you. You are building the future of this region and the world through the innovative ideas you promote, the products you launch, the organizations you lead, and the connections you form.

Know that, as you do so, the United States government and the American people are proud to be there as your mentors, your partners, and your friends.

I wish all of you a very productive summit and look forward to hearing about the brilliant ideas and connections that will last long after the closing ceremony.

Thank you.