UIII Public Lecture: ASEAN and the Asian Century with Tan Sri Dato' Johari bin Abdul

August 11, 2023 Contributor: Achmad Jatnika

Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia (UIII) held a public lecture by inviting Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat Malaysia (Malaysian Parliament), Tan Sri Dato' Johari bin Abdul. This public lecture was titled "ASEAN and the Asian Century" and was held at the UIII Depok campus on Friday, August 4, 2023. This event was moderated by the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Philips J. Vermonte, Ph.D.

In his session, Dato' Johari explained that in the 21st century, it would be Asia that would dominate global politics and define Asian culture, in contrast with its characterization in the 19th century, which the British Empire controlled, and in the 20th century, which America dominated.

He also explained that Asia's economic performance was solid. The strength of China's economy has supported this in recent decades. Where in China poverty has been eradicated with their increasingly advanced economy. If they keep going like this, China will become the most prominent world economy in the next few years.

“The world is changing, and it is almost certain, I say, without a doubt, that China will become a world economy, whether you like it or not. China will become a world economy, and China is in Asia," he said in a class filled with students.

China is on its way to becoming the number one economy in the world. He sees many opportunities that can be taken by Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as other countries in the ASEAN region. According to him, with more than 300 million people in Malaysia and Indonesia today, both countries can take advantage and learn from China to form solid food security.

Indonesia, Malaysia, and other ASEAN countries have vast land, technology, and human resources. In contrast, China has its expertise, so according to him, ASEAN countries must work together to establish food security that will not be disturbed by war, for example, by the situation in Russia and Ukraine today.

"At its peak, ASEAN has a population of 680 million people. In you and me, Indonesia and Malaysia combined, we have 300 million people, meaning half the population is here. Can you imagine the power we have? Can you imagine what kind of opportunities we have? We will combine strength, human resources, intelligence, money, and experience. Plus, we must take a position now when China becomes a world economy. To prepare for the future. This is when you and I matter today. What ideas are we talking about today, and what things are on the topic of the world today?” he disclosed.

"Food security number one, Indonesia has landed. Every country in ASEAN owns the land, we have the technology and human resources, and the Chinese in China have all the expertise. We must work with them to ensure that ASEAN becomes a hub where food security must be anchored here. Because no matter what happens in the world, neither the wars in Russia and Ukraine nor any war will affect us. Because we have to be their supply farm, and we will have food to maintain the population,” he continued.

Climate Change in the ASEAN Region

Dato’ Johari also stated that Indonesia and Malaysia have the same interest in starting green energy. This can be seen from an agreement between the two countries for investment in this field. According to him, both have resources that can be utilized to develop solar, biogas, biomass, and hydro systems.

“Now that technology has advanced, we must get rid of fossils. We have to get rid of coal and burning charcoal and look around us at what renewable energy is. Watch how to switch to green energy; in the end, we use it today, again for tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow so that the entire population of today and the population of years to come will serve and be safe. That's why green energy comes into the picture."

"Alhamdulillah, Indonesia, and Malaysia have agreed that we will use resources such as solar systems, biogas, biomass, and hydro. It is a source of energy that contributes to the betterment of the world," he said.

The moderator, Philips J. Vermonte, agreed with this. According to him, we should not isolate ourselves from the outside world, one of which is related to the issue of climate change. He said that we need to take a stand on climate change. “We are facing pressure from Europe and developed countries regarding climate change. So we need to have a stand on climate change,” he explained.

Engagement and the Asian Century in ASEAN

When talking about ASEAN, Dato’ Johari spoke about the bond between the two countries that encourages mutual cooperation and that there were more bilateral programs that could be introduced. "As Prof. said. Komaruddin that we have a bond, and between us, we must help each other. I believe there should be many programs that we can introduce. He concluded that such as the transfer of students and lecturers to various universities, academic exchanges, and cultural exchanges between Indonesia and Malaysia, but between ASEAN countries and countries in other parts of Asia," he concluded.

In his speech, UIII Rector Prof. Komaruddin mentioned that the Asian Century has enormous promise and potential. “As countries in our region strive for progress and prosperity, ASEAN emerges as a beacon of unity, collaboration, and mutual understanding. This regional organization, with its ten member countries, has demonstrated the strength of cooperation in promoting economic growth, cultural exchanges, and regional stability," he explained.

“Throughout history, Southeast Asia has been a melting pot of cultures, civilizations, and ideas. Like the threads of a vibrant tapestry, ASEAN countries have woven a rich narrative of diversity and resilience. It is here, in our spirit of unity in diversity, that we find the key to unlocking the full potential of the Asian Century," he said

Philips J. Vermonte was also optimistic that the Asian Century would come. Currently, in his vision, Indonesia has many resources that can contribute to overcoming global problems facing the world today, such as food security and climate change.

“The Asian Century is coming, whether we like it or not, is a fact. And we have more than a few resources that can contribute to tackling a global problem that the world is facing right now, food security; we have huge tracts of land in Southeast Asia. We don't have enough knowledge about climate change, but we are sources of renewable energy, solar power, and wind power and haven't cultivated it yet,” he said.

"The formula that Tan Sri gave, dreams, courage, and knowledge, now this must become our new mantra," concluded Philips J. Vermote.