Speech by Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh
Private Dinner in Conjunction with the Global Child Forum
at The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur
Your Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden
Your Royal Highness Tunku Azizah, Crown Princess of Pahang
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am excited that the Global Child Forum is having its first ever Southeast Asia Forum.
On behalf of beautiful Malaysia, I bid Your Majesties and all our wonderful guests from aboard, a very warm welcome. And may we thank Your Majesties for choosing Malaysia to host this forum.
Last weekend, all of Sweden celebrated Your Majesty King Carl’s 70th birthday. And this evening, a few days later, you are here with us. We are truly honoured by Your Majesty’s presence. We wish you a very Happy Birthday.
But allow me to express this sentiment. It is immensely humbling that a country’s ruler, and indeed, the father of a nation, would be so loving and caring ‘NOT ONLY’ of his people, but also the people of this world. Especially, the most vulnerable – children.
We pay tribute to Your Majesty’s determined efforts to promote and defend children’s rights, to persuade business across the globe of the importance of doing what is right. What Your Majesty champion, improves lives and ‘effects change’ for many generations to come!
On this same note, we also pay tribute to Your Majesty, Queen Silvia. You are equally passionate of Global Child Forum and an ardent advocate for the disenfranchised around the world. Thank you for what you do. At YTL, our mission is to be a force for good by ‘building what is right’.
Our mission reflects how in 60 years, we have built on core competencies in engineering to become a conglomerate spanning 11 industries. Our mission also reflects the enduring values that guide our conscience and sustain our passion.
This is because we are deeply aware that we are borrowing this world from our children. If we do not make concerted efforts to invest in our world, in education, the environment, the arts, then our children will already have a bleak future to inherit.
We are today reaping the horrible consequences of humanity in the past, scarring our environment with our unbridled greed. In the same manner, if we scar our children today by abusing them, we will reap tomorrow a consequence none of us can truly fathom, a price none of us can truly afford!
What we sow is what we reap! We cannot and must never allow evil to triumph and harm our children today. But the reality is our world today worships short-termism. The global economy prides itself in being driven by instant rewards, quick fixes and unethical financial gains.
That is why our efforts to reverse the tide, and push our world towards sustainability and moral responsibility, must be greater. That is also why we are pleased to support the Global Child Forum. Efforts to instil greater corporate responsibility and citizenship must be elevated to the global level. So that we could help create greater momentum for change in corporate mind-sets and practices.
Especially, when the future of the children of our world is at stake. Business has already compromised their future too much. The time for reinvestment must be today. I am particularly grateful that tomorrow’s forum will cover a discussion on “Children in the digital age: how the ICT sector can support and respect children’s rights”.
Malaysia is the first country in the world to have been ‘hot-spotted’ with Fourth Generation mobile internet technology. YTL succeeded in doing so three years ago. One of our earliest initiatives was to work with the Malaysian Ministry of Education to network 10,000 schools with 4G technology. Furthermore, we established a virtual learning platform called Frog VLE made available to all the 10,000 schools, providing free resources and education materials.
In short, not only have we helped remove the digital divide, we have given Malaysian children, both in the urban and rural areas, the same ability to tap the best in education globally – at the tip of their finger. And if necessary, on the move.
We believe that technology remains the game changer. When abused, technology has brought untold suffering to many children. But in the hands of good people, it will spark new initiatives for change, and snowball into new legacies of hope for all our children.
Once again, may I take this opportunity to thank their Majesties for hosting Global Child Forum in Malaysia. May I also thank their Majesties and Global Child Forum for appointing me as a Board Member of Global Child Forum. I am honoured by this appointment and I will do my best to be true to the vision it inspires.
Thank you and may the Lord bless you.