Asian leaders must cast off shackles of history, ESM Goh says at regional forum

Singapore's Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong speaking at the Jeju Forum 2016.
Singapore's Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong speaking at the Jeju Forum 2016.ST PHOTO: CHANG MAY CHOON
Singapore's Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at the Jeju Forum 2016.
Singapore's Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at the Jeju Forum 2016.ST PHOTO: CHANG MAY CHOON
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon speaks at the opening ceremony of a forum on Jeju island, South Korea, on May 26, 2016.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon speaks at the opening ceremony of a forum on Jeju island, South Korea, on May 26, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

JEJU -  Asian countries must look beyond the confines of history and geography and collaborate towards a peaceful and prosperous "Pacific Century", said Singapore's Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong on Thursday (May 26).

In his keynote speech at the annual  Jeju Forum, Mr Goh also called for far-sighted leadership with a shared common goal in order for Asia to shed the burden of historical feuds and realise its full potential.

"To escape the shackles of history will require enlightened, strong and far-sighted leadership which shares a common vision of Asia’s new order and collectively exercise political will to overcome complex challenges together for the common good," he said.

World leaders past and present gathered on Thursday (May 26) at South Korea's southern resort island of Jeju to discuss how Asia can work together towards a "new order" and cooperative leadership. Another keynote speaker is United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon who stressed the importance of having more high-level dialogue between South Korea and its neighbours China and Japan.

He also urged the countries involved in territorial or maritime disputes to work towards a peaceful resolution "in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law, including the UN Charter".

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad condemned war as a means to ending conflicts. Citing Malaysia's resolved territorial disputes with Thailand and Singapore, he said leaders should seek peaceful ways, including negotiation and arbitration, to settle conflicts.

Three other former prime ministers - Mr Tomiichi Murayama of Japan, Mr Jim Bolger of New Zealand and Mr Enrico Letta of Italy - also delivered keynote speeches.

The Jeju forum, which is in its 11th year, drew more than 4,000 participants from over 50 countries, with big groups from China and Japan. This year's theme is "Asia's new order and cooperative leadership".