Saturday, December 06, 2008

Clinton's Lecture in Malaysia

Thanks to a fellow ReComer for providing me this opportunity to hear Bill Clinton's live today 6pm at Kuala Lumpur Convention Center.

Let me attempt to share as much as I can capture from the lecture, for the benefit of my blog readers! It is a waste that in the hall, there are so many empty seats. :(

Datuk Vinod Sekhar quoted his father, the late Tan Sri BC Sekhar, for saying that "the world as it is today cannot remain. We must have a paradigm shift". We should involve in world harmony. And he asked the audience on whether we involve ourselves, and he highlighted that Bill Clinton is a very suitable person to share with us, especially with his fantastic experience in challenging the world to dream.

He pointed out that Malaysia is a multi racial, multi cultural and multi colours country, and we have been able to thrive together, and it is very critical that we work together.

He hope that it would be ideal with the late Tan Sri BC Sekhar has the opportunity to meet Bill Clinton, but unfortunately he didn't.

Clinton went straight to the podium after Datuk Vinod Sekhar finished his introductory speech. So, the schedule was mixed up, as Clinton was originally supposed to receive his award first, before speaking.

Clinton started his speech by saying that he would be talking about how we suffer the world financial crisis. He apologized for being late, as his journey was delayed by traffic jam, after paying respect to Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister at Putrajaya.

He has just come from Hong Kong, after conducting the meeting of Clinton Global Initiatives there, and it has managed to raise hundreds of millions. They flew in a bunch of poor people from developing nation to join the event, and it is the first time, it is held outside of the United States.

He highlighted that Malaysia represent the hope of the world, where people of all religious background work together. He highlighted his visit to KL Bird Park earlier in the day, and he saw how a male peacock was friendly to 2 other birds. He pointed out of 2 friendly Muslim ladies who greeted him as well.

He is lucky to have the opportunities to serve US, and have visited about 100 countries since he left White House 8 years ago. He has been working on aids relief and educational issues and have been visiting remote villagers in Asia/Africa/Latin America, and these people are the hope of the world.

Today, we have global inter-dependence, and we have to deal with the failure of interdependence, and "divorce is not an option". We have to face the certain consequences that we have today, and most of those are negative now, example would be the negative disaster in Mumbai.

Palestine and Israel share a small piece of land, and that land is the birth place for 3 major religions around the world and how good it would be if both the nations can make peace. For Palestinians, there aren't many poor Palestinians around the world, except in their own home country. He quoted example of how they are being the main economic controller in Eucador, and in US, a number of them are millionaires or college professors. Bill Clinton highlighted that he does know a number of Palestinians.

And beyond the border, if we fail to resolve issues, we would continue to have problems. We need to see global poverty. Like in Ethiopia, most people live poorly. Out of 80 Million population, there are only 700 clinics and the Clinton initiative is trying to create 3,500 clinics there. Yet, in some of those remote areas, we see the people being very resourceful. They power their area by solar panels, and they design school buildings, where in the day, it would be the place, where students study, but at night, it is the place where the women work. And it would have like 4 lights, where 2 of the lights are compact fluorescent lights, which is bright and it is used for gathering and there are another 2 LED lights (which even Americans are not using), and these are highly concentrated lights and it is used for studying or working.

In poor countries, many of those people are working even harder than most of us, and they deserve to be part of this world, to enjoy what we get. The late BC Sekhar highlighted of the need for us to change the way we think. We were always told that we would be successful if we do better, eg: run faster, do it better, have better grades etc, but when we have a winner, we have a loser too. Perhaps, we can think of a way to change the definition of success, although it is easier said than done.

If you believe fundamental of life is global interdependence, then lets share with the world. Embrace anyone who share our values.

This financial crisis is caused by too much debt or leverage and it got spreaded around quickly. Clinton highlighted on the many right things that Malaysia has done during the financial crisis, and yet our growth rate is affected now, even though it is of no fault of us.

In Clinton's last year of presidency, the human genome project was started. And it was interesting that between 99.5% to 99.9% of our genome are the same, and what makes us all look so different is the 0.1% to 0.5% of genome. We have more similiarity than differences.

There is support of common humanities in all religious faith. He went on to cite some quotation of religions, which show that. For example, for buddhists, the only people who are truly human are those who feel the arrows that pierce the skin of others, even though they are not being pierced.

Once we accept the global inter-dependence, then we should look for a world that we share, and we will be in harmony of many great ways that we share. For example, now in California, there is no majority race, and by 2050, there is no majority race in US. And for US, we have just elected an Afro-American as the new President and the father of this president-elect was born in Africa. So, he is just first generation American.

For the past 16 years, US has been moving towards larger community and we have to go forward togehter. When we try to grow top-down, we would create more and more inequality. And no matter how powerful US is, there is no way that US can solve any global issues on its own. It needs the support of others. War for protection should be the last resort.

In WW2, Winston Churchill were constantly taunted by British media for defending US, and he said "US always does the right thing, after exhausting all the other alternatives.

Clinton does hope that US would be able to do better in the next 20 years.

What US have to do now?

While every country should order its own house, US should engineer a fast recovery of the economy, especially in the financial sector and restructure the credit. We can't fix US's problem, unless we stop the devaluation of the asset prices. US should be altering the amount of energy and the way we use energy, and the rest of the world should too. He hopes to see US pay more attention on climate change. No matter how tough the economy is, the developed nation should also invest more in the poor countries. He cited that he is impressed with Malaysia, for helping Sierra Leone.

He gave credits to Bill Gates for being full-time into charity, where he hope to give everyone in the world with the same chance as him to have some kind of life that he has. He hope to reach out to others. He is hopeful about creating future potential, by helping others in educating themselves. He hope for coordinated response for financial crisis too.

The world today is not sustainable. Half of the world is living below USD2 a day. 25% of people who die are due to diseases like aids or poverty-related diseases, including 80% of these people are children below 5 years old. These are all very innocent people.

Coals/Gas/Oil, all these resources were stored in the earth for millions of years, and now we are really utilizing them and we might finish off all these resources in years. And we need to make sure that Greenland does not melt, and it would not be sustainable if the Tibetan ice melts.

Today in China, there are 1.3 Billion population, with 130 Million in China are those migrants in the city. With economy turns bad, these people might not be able to make a living in the city, and if they were forced to go back to outskirts, they might not be able to sustain themselves. Some people do even sell blood using shared needles. Hong Kong, which is the biggest port, might be flooded, if those ice continues to melt.

Clinton then moved on to something controversial. He said that political conflict is good, where nobody is right all the time, and we need to have disagreement. He pointed out that he and his wife do have disagreements sometimes. Today, Barack Obama has a group of economists and they spend time argue over the right policy. However, if we turn back the clock to 15-20 years ago, Americans would not accept a bunch of economists who are arguing among themselves.

Clinton highlighted that he is impressed by Malaysians, where we respect faith and we see someone, we can look straight into their eyes.

Clinton also pointed out that Hillary's aide is a Muslim and her best friend is Jewish, and they can talk about each other's religion openly. We need to be able to share the future, and if we do, the world best days are ahead.

Above is Clinton's sharing, and then it is a video of the late Tan Sri BC Sekhar.

He pointed out that the strength of man is by how much responsibility he is holding. Tan Sri has played a huge part in moving the nation with credibility and ingenuity and he delivers through great people, and he was a scientist, administrator, philanthropist, innovator etc.

Bill Clinton is the first democratic president in 6 decades to be elected twice. He helped to make the longest period of economic expansion in the US and helped to create 22 Million jobs.

Clinton's Foundation helps to meet challenges in global initiatives. They help 1.4 Million people with AIDS and focused on climate change and sustainable growth too. He spent most of his work at Africa and Latin America.

In US, he hoped to help America to reduce the obesity of children. He was also the envoy to help the rebuilding efforts after tsunami. He was born on 19th August 1946 in Arkansas.

Tan Sri BC Sekhar has brought changes to the world and have the vision and make the vision a reality.

He quoted John Quincy Adams, "If your action inspires others, to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

It is great to see Bill Clinton tries to solve the planet's greatest problem and if there is a will, there is a way!

Would blog about the Q&A session later.

Hope that this sharing of this lecture would be beneficial to my readers.

The Star has a write-up too here

For full article by The Star, it is as follow:-
PUTRAJAYA: Former United States President Bill Clinton met with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at Bangunan Perdana Putra here on Friday.
Clinton was in Kuala Lumpur to give a talk at the inaugural BC Sekhar Memorial Lecture on Friday.

During his address on Friday, Clinton said political conflict is a good thing whereby disagreements or discussions only promote thinking.

“I was told that there are political conflicts here. That is a good thing. Nobody is right all the time,” Clinton said in reference to the current political situation in Malaysia.

Clinton said just like when he was president of the United States, he would prefer a slightly negative press as opposed to a press that only sings praises of the administration.

“My wife Hilary and I also disagree on many issues but it is this disagreement that allows thinking. It is also healthy to have discussions,” he told a packed hall.

Clinton said he paid a courtesy visit to Abdullah, visited the KL Bird Park and did some shopping for souveniors for his wife and daughter.

Clinton had actually turned up half an hour late for the lecture, arriving at 6.30pm, instead of 6pm as scheduled. He however said it was due to the traffic that lengthened his journey from 35 minutes to 65 minutes.

“Given the current economic climate, having that much traffic indicates that your economy is doing just fine,” he said to laughter from the crowd.

On his visit to the bird park, Clinton said he had met two Muslim women who came up to greet him.

“It is this ability to respect people’s faith that I admire in Malaysia. If only everyone could look another person in their eye and welcome them to their common space, what a different world we would have.”

During the 40-minute lecture, Clinton touched on a vast array of topics ranging from climate change, health issues, global interdependence and empowering people to take control of their lives. He also related the many experiences he had gone through in the 100-odd countries he had visited since setting up the Clinton Global Inititive foundation.

Clinton said the current global economic crisis showed that it was now a fact that the people of the world were simply more interdependent than the entire human race has ever been.

“It shows that divorce is not an option. We’ve seen the negative aspects of the interdependency from terrorist attacks and the financial crisis but good things can also come out of it.”

In this context, Clinton said that the definition of success also had to change from comparing what one person had over another to a situation that ensured all parties benefited. He said it required people to embrace anyone who they shared common values with.

“We have no choice but to share the future. Since most of us care for the future of our children and grandchildren than ourselves, I’m sure we will make the right decision,” he said.

Later during a question and answer session, Clinton said the only way to balance the growth of developing countries at the expense of the environment was to make the business of environment a good business.

“Most cities have landfills. The organic waste could be compacted and used as biofuel and the tyres can be recycled.”

He said the problem was that people think profits could only be made in the way it is already being done rather than challenging the status quo to make profits in a different manner.
Clinton gave the example of how the business model for AIDS medication was changed from one of low volume, high profit margin and uncertain payment to one that is now of high volume, low profit margin and certain payment. He said this sort of paradigm shift could also be done in the environmental industry.

Organised by the Sekhar Foundation, the lecture was held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and aired live on Astro Awani.

This is Clinton’s first trip to Malaysia. He will also receive the BC Sekhar Medal for Transformational Leadership which is handed out to world leaders who have an excellent record and have brought positive change to the lives of the people.

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Would encourage any of my blog readers to share with me any event that you come across. As long as the event/activity/initiative is education/charity/youth oriented and is not-for-profit, I would be more than happy to post it to share!


Charis said...

Thanks for sharing. I would have gone if they had given me a seat, but I wasn't that fortunate, so this is the next best thing to it.

Chong Yong Wei said...

WHOA Chen Chow, you actually took the effort to jot down is script! :O

I've the videos, though.

Chen Chow said...

Thanks, Charis & Gabrielle!

Gabrielle, if you have the videos online, feel free to let me know! I'll put the link at my blog!