The 13th Asian Public Intellectuals Regional Workshop

Hiroshima, Japan

It gives me great pleasure to welcome the API fellows for the 2013–14 fiscal year as well as the distinguished members of the API Executive Committee, the International Selection Committee, the Coordinating Institution, and Partner Institutions from around Asia, to the 13th API Regional Workshop here in Hiroshima.

The API fellowship program was inaugurated in 2000, in Malaysia. Almost all of the Partner Institution representatives who were at the launching ceremony in Kuala Lumpur then are here today. Over the ensuing 14 years, the fellowship program has sought out an array of public intellectuals from diverse professions—including scholars, researchers, creative artists, journalists, and NGO leaders—and provided them with the opportunity to visit and learn from neighboring countries; to gain a deeper understanding and grasp the essence of various issues in the region; and to discover creative solutions.

The API fellowship program has produced nearly 340 fellows over the last 14 years. The contributions made by each fellow to society have been remarkable. They have shared their research findings with society through mediums such as publications, reports, conferences, film, and artwork, and this earned the program praise for its social impact from a recent third-party review. We are overjoyed with these positive results. 

Another unique feature of the API fellowship has been the follow-up programs. This has enabled fellows from diverse disciplines to transcend national borders to engage in collaborative research and activities.

Over the last 14 years, Asia has undergone a major transformation, particularly in ASEAN countries. This has been a period of rapid economic growth in Asia, and this growth continues today. The rapid growth of Asia, however, has brought with it a tidal wave of new challenges. These include huge population growth, environmental destruction, and the depletion of resources. The widening gap between rich and poor, cross-border migration, human rights violations, and natural disasters are all regional challenges that show no signs of abating. 

As these serious challenges threaten not only the region’s sustainable growth but the wellbeing of its citizens, there is a need for individuals who are brimming with new, innovative ideas to solve regional and global challenges; who have a profound, holistic view of the path to human progress; and who have the ability to inspire and engage with the greater society.

I can think of no other people who are better suited to the task of envisioning a person with such qualities than all of the fellows in this room and the 300 former fellows of the past 12 years who together make up the API community and represent the public intellectuals of Asia. I am looking forward to seeing what new and innovative discoveries and perspectives will be brought to the fore.

This will be the last API regional workshop where representatives of the Coordinating Institution and Partner Institutions will come together. I would like to end these welcome remarks by expressing my deepest gratitude for the affection and dedication that all of you have poured into the API program over the last 14 years.

Thank you very much.