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Issue :

Winter 2010

I think people need to re-look
into what they should use to
make progress for country or

society. Some people say Gross
National Happiness (GNH) and
some people say Gross Domestic
Product (GDP). I don’t know
which one is the right answer for
our country or for society’s

out the progress as we move


Donaldson Tan, Singapore

Getting to know AYM Ed
Lo c al Wis d o



ace an Rig ion


C ul
t u re
F a ir Trade
E n v ir


Mobilizing Southeast Asian Youth
Introduction to
ASEAN Youth Movement
Between 2008 and 2009, the Collaboration for the Young Generation in
Mekong region (CYM) - a regional program of the Thai Volunteer Service
Foundation (TVS) - initiated a new process for the young generation
to share their experiences, ideas, and local and regional socio-cultural
situations. The Mekong Youth Camp, ASEAN Youth Camp and ASEAN
Peoples’ Forums were important spaces for a growing youth network to
approach ASEAN policy-makers. More than 150 youth from nine ASEAN
countries participated in these activities and through their strong
intention to build a youth network, ASEAN Youth Movement has
developed to bring together more youth in our region.

ASEAN Youth Movement is a space for youth activists, students, NGOs,

entrepreneurs and youth allies (to name a few types of participants) to
come together, share their experiences and support each other’s
efforts for a better society. We are not an organization - we are trying to
create a communication network, which can bring together,
organizations, networks, groups or clubs interested in connecting
with others and exchanging information.

We call ourselves a movement because many of our participants are

activists - actively participating in society, working in community
development, politics, the environment, human rights and many
other issues. The most important thing is that we are all active youth,
and when we come together, we believe that we can call ourselves
a movement. We aim to bring youth together and support our friends’
efforts for social change through youth-driven media and

We have organized the ASEAN Youth Movement and plan to continue

with seasonal newsletters to represent the activities and ideas of youth
in many different ASEAN countries. Human Rights, the environment,
health, gender and social justice are all issues we continue to support
and help publicize throughout ASEAN. We are working based on youth
volunteerism and grassroots energy, and hope for our movement for
a better region to continue rising!

Message from the editorial team Our journey
has begun!
Warm greetings to all of brothers and sisters in our
ASEAN youth family from every corner of this
Southeast Asian land and warmly welcome you to our
very first issue of ASEAN Youth Movement Newsletter
and finally, it is in your hands, friends!

We would like to introduce the readers about our

journey’s movement - to know us, feel our hearts and
share our walk of life. This issue mainly covers major
events in October, and other interesting
activity update in the last few months from
our friends across the region.

Hear the voices of ASEAN youth through ‘Youth Voices’,

and see how and why sustainable development
alternatives are needed in the region and then learn
how Thai youths got prepared for the ASEAN Youth
Forum in last September and find out what they
learned from the ‘Thai Youth Preparation Forum’.

Remember wearing in pink T-shirts, running around

the venue the whole days and overnight discussions
have a made a meaningful reward of ‘More Than a
Statement’ and followed by our comprehensive ‘Youth

Friendship is born. A warm visit to friend’s work area

and homeland is made. Our sister, P’Ae from Friends
of Burma kindly shares this story with us ‘The Legend
of Keng Sua Ten Dam’ and read the love for the
natural environment through the eyes of young
children of the Mekong River on ‘My Mekong River’.

We hope our first issue will be a good start for our

sustainable movement and other million youths in
ASEAN. We believe ‘youth effort’ can make positive
change in the future.

Our journey is not over yet. Till next issue!

ASEAN Youth Media Team ASEAN

Content Editorial Team

ASEAN Youth Movement
Bennett Haynes
Boonson Ransikarbum
Jaruwan Supolrai
Supawadee Petrat
Somkid Mahissaya
I Introduction to AYM CONTRIBUTORS
Tipakson Manpati
II Editor’s Message Aphatsorn Sombunwatthanakhun
Pichate Benjamart
1 Our Words Pimsiri Petchnamrob
Bennett Haynes
3 Thai Youth Preparation Forum Miles Baker
Monorum Som
8 More Than a Statement Pham Trong Nhan
Ryan Gan
14 To Peace in ASEAN Donaldson Tan
Nikki Delfin
15 The Legend of Kang Sua Ten Dam Ahmad Fikri Arief
20 ASEAN Youth Statement Aphatsorn Sombunwatthanakhun
Jamon Sornpetchnarin
26 My Mekong River Jaruwan Supolrai
Monorum Som
27 AYM Activities Updates Pimsiri Petchnamrob
29 Regional Updates Darunee Lahkoon

34 Diary of Hope
Thai Volunteer Service Foundation (TVS)
409 Soi Rohitsook, Pracharajbampen Rd.,
Huay-Kwang, Bangkok 10320 Thailand

Tel/Fax: (66) 2691 0437-9

Our words:
Youth voices for
“a people-oriented”
Interview compiled by Tipakson Manpati

“I think people need to re-look into what

they should use to make progress for
country or society. Some people say Gross
National Happiness (GNH) and some people
say Gross Domestic Product (GDP). I don’t
know which one is the right answer for our
country or for society’s progress, but I think
we will find out the progress as we move
Donaldson Tan, Singapore

“ASEAN is something new to me and it is

hopeful for youth. I want to see ASEAN bring
new, good things. I want to see youth
participation in developing ASEAN. ASEAN
should understand problems that youth
and all people face, so we can engage in
solving problems and develop ASEAN
Hoy Vathana, Cambodia

“Gathering ASEAN countries
together helps promote its role in
the world and people are getting to
know this region more and more.
I want our ASEAN to exchange,
share and help its member coun-
tries to be in solidarity.”

Ole, Lao PDR

“I think our ASEAN region is acommunity.

Though we have many differences such
as culture, and economic status, we are in
solidarity. I want to see a peaceful ASEAN.
Every child has the right to go to school
and live in good environment, without
pollution.I want all ASEAN countries to
create more chances for youth to
Nguyen Anh Tuan, Vietnam participate in decision-making processes.”

“Our region of ASEAN is very important

chance for better social development.
At present, what the region lacks is
further cooperation. For example, in
this ASEAN People’s Forum, not all
ASEAN countries are present. I think
it will be great if there are civil society
organizations, and of course, youth
organizations are present in this kind
of activities.”
Che-Anne Matriz, The Philippines

Thai Youth Preparation
Forum by AYM Media Team

by AYM Media Team

How do we engage with ASEAN? Is it only an economic space

for government trade representatives? Can we propose alternatives
to large-scale development and “free” trade? Or is youth participation
just another marketing tool? How can we hold ASEAN accountable?
These are important questions for many young Thai activists and
organizers, but certainly difficult to answer. The Thai Youth Preparation
Forum for APF 2009 from September 5-6, co-organised by the Thai
Volunteer Service Foundation, ActionAid Thailand and Youth for Local
Wisdom Network (Seubsan), was an opportunity to approach these
questions and brainstorm concrete ways of participating in ASEAN.

On the morning of the 5th we shared our reasons for joining the forum
and our expectations for the weekend’s outputs. Jeerawan Yohtsamut
(Ying), a senior at Thammasat Rangsit University and a volunteer with
ActionAid Thailand, came to the Forum to learn more about ASEAN.
Ying added, “Our thoughts need a space, and coming together with
youth that work in rural communities, Bangkok youth can learn more
about other areas and activities. We can mix together those
who know about ASEAN – the ‘academic’ types – with rural activists.”

With these concerns in mind, we organized a morning seminar on

ASEAN. P’Kratae (Supawadee Petrat) of the Thai Volunteer Service
Foundation (TVS) presented a basic history of ASEAN, which led into
a panel presentation from Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
the Office of Welfare Promotion, Protection and Empowerment
of Vulnerable Groups. Representing civil society organizations
was Yuyun Wahyuningrum of Forum-Asia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs views the ASEAN Charter as a “bible” to
maintain political will of ASEAN members and hold up commitments for
human rights and people’s participation. Yet how “strictly interpreted”
this bible will be is another issue, and is where civil society will have an
important role. As Yuyun pointed out at the end of her presentation,
youth can be a part of “knocking on the door” until we get a response
from ASEAN and human rights are upheld. The ASEAN Inter-Govern-
mental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) will meet in January 2010
– this will be an important opportunity for further engagement.

Our forum brought together a range of participants, including youth

activists from northern Thailand working with Burmese refugees, young
lawyers working in Thailand’s three southern-most provinces, labor
organizers in Bangkok factories, young women working in Ubon
Rachathani’s urban communities, and a range of youth supporting
alternative education activities that focus on local wisdom and cultures.

We also connected with a representative from the government’s “Youth

Congress” – Nuanpan Thamanovanish (Pang), a student at Chulalong-
korn University who is developing some new ideas about cross-cultural
education. As part of the Youth Congress, students like Pang have
directly connected with the government and presented their policy
ideas and proposals. Pang shared with us her idea that all ASEAN
languages should be part of Thailand’s school curriculums and that the
histories of rural areas should be taught to young students. She argued
that by learning more about these histories, we could improve
relationships between neighboring countries, understand their cultures
and their potential for growth.

An engaging discussion came out of her suggestions, with Vichian Talaa

(Yun) and Wipawadee Panyangnoi (Tuck) from Friends of Burma
responding that the type of historical education Pang proposed won’t
work, and for several reasons. When we look to Thailand’s history of
oppression and control over territory, the powerful people will always
want to keep history the way it wants it to be. Diversity is a challenge –
when we learn about history, we need local people to be a part of this
process – not just national-level processes and national culture. This
exchange showed early on the differences in opinion between
conventional students and student - activists.

Education has clearly become a very important issue to Thai youth

involved in this preparation process. Pichate Benjamart (Chate),
an alternative education volunteer from TVS also continued to discuss

education, first by pointing out how many different ethnicities were
present in the room. Education in the conventional system forgets
locally based approaches to learning. We may not need a complete
picture of history, but we need an opportunity to learn about the local.

Nattawat Theeralerttham (Top) a student coordinator for Young Progres-

sives Southeast Asia (YPSEA) joined the discussion by presenting his
network’s efforts for youth participation in ASEAN. YPSEA is working on
an initiative to push ASEAN leaders for change in education, health and
human rights. They have developed a “Youth Charter” which represents
the YPSEA development and implementation process. Top also pointed
out that YPSEA wants to “stand together and make this Charter a
representative voice for our allies.” The English version of their Youth
Charter has been submitted to the Department of Foreign of Affairs. The
challenge for YPSEA - given that many youth are still unsure of
themselves and unprepared for expressing their ideas and arguments -
is to make their efforts accessible to more youth.

When we look to civil society, we see diverse ethnicities and identities,

movements for an alternative society and strong people’s organizations.
The ASEAN Civil Society Conferences and ASEAN People’s Forum (APF)
have broadly pushed for human rights and people’s participation.
Focusing on an environment “pillar” and youth involvement have also
become an important part of APF’s current work. The state uses phrase
“empowering young people through education” and their “Youth
Summits” have generated some mechanisms for youth participation. Yet
the state’s processes are still vague to people’s movements and the civil
society organizations seeking out the state for engagement.

By finding clear connections to ASEAN policy and proposals, we can

present our concerns and own concepts for policies or make new
proposals. “If we have the belief to change society for the better, we
need to conclude how we want to work with ASEAN. Long term or not?”
P’ Kratae pointed out, and let students take over. Tuck suggested that
youth can be a mechanism to tell ASEAN’s structures that people’s
participation needs to be genuine. Adesorn Guntamunglee (Tle) also
echoed his famous words, “corporations are afraid of NGOs.”
When people’s organizations are strong, they hold corporations and
governments accountable.

At the community level, participation is deep and clear, with people

working for sustainable alternatives. At the public level, we organize
campaigns and create connections between issues. At the policy level,

participation takes the form of
advocacy to represent marginalized
peoples. We need to connect these
levels and work for concrete change.

The ASEAN presentation and student-

led exchange throughout Saturday
afternoon helped us to understand
possibilities for engagement. For
Sunday it was time to pursue specific
and concrete issues related to youth
and brainstorm for media campaigns.
We will use this opportunity to share
information and ideas about ASEAN
in the communities we live and work.
For most participants, a lot of questions
about people’s participation are still
unanswered. But continuing to be
a part of this learning process and
youth movement will help make our
voices heard.


ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission

on Human Rights (AICHR) – a regional
body intended to “promote and protect
human rights and fundamental freedoms
of the peoples of ASEAN” and “to uphold
the right of the peoples of ASEAN to live in
peace, dignity and prosperity.” The AICHR
is an important point of focus for ASEAN
civil society.
accountable – an organization or
institution is expected to explain its
actions or decisions and be responsible
oppression – unjust treatment or control
over a group of people
advocacy – public support for a specific
issue or policy

More Than A Statement by Bennett Haynes

We came together for two main reasons. First, we aimed to produce a

new, comprehensive Youth Statement that represented our consensus
on key issues in the ASEAN region. Second, we hoped to strengthen our
youth network to facilitate communication and exchange of ideas,
support youth activities and share information between youth working
at the local-level. The ASEAN Youth Forum was co-organised by Thai
Volunteer Service Foundation, ActionAid Thailand and Youth for Local
Wisdom Network (Seubsan) and brought together 60 youth partcipants
from 9 countries from Southeast Asia countries. We planned for the
Youth Forum to be a platform to build recognition for youth voices in
civil society and engage directly with ASEAN.

Erwin, a student activist from Java, Indonesia pointed out early on,
“youth are casualties of globalization.” This statement may seem vague,
but it makes an important point. The economic, socio-cultural and
environmental changes occurring in ASEAN are having real, negative
impacts on youth and we are increasingly aware of them. Southeast
Asian countries have young populations, yet there is little being done by
state governments to support a sustainable future for the next
generation. Whether it is unemployment in Indonesia or Cambodia,
unequal access to education in Lao PDR or Burma, gender inequality in
Vietnam, socio-political apathy in the Philippines or Singapore, and
migrant labor throughout the Mekong sub-region, there are serious
problems and challenges facing youth. Economies have expanded

greatly and many youth own fancy cell phones and motorbikes, but
what are we to for all ASEAN Youth?

On our second evening, I sat for dinner with a Vietnamese environmetal

researcher of Khmer Krom heritage, a Lao youth organizer
of Vietnamese decent, a brother and sister from the Tai Yai
community in Shan State, Burma, and a Thai student activist from the
rural northeast. We sat together, speaking Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, Tai Yai
and English, while sharing ideas about important issues.
Our conversation ranged from regional history of migration, the climate
crisis and carbon trading, agribusiness and livestock feedlots, global
economic bodies like the G8, BRIC and ASEAN, and finally, the construc-
tion of dams on the Mekong and Salween rivers. After dinner, it hit me
that I was working with a unique group of young people that genuinely
care about society and are working for positive change.

But for many grassroots activists, ASEAN’s economic focus is a major

problem. Some youth reject ASEAN on this principle, while others
question the viability of bilateral trade agreements. To all of us, such an
emphasis on the economy speaks to ASEAN’s ignorance towards
important social and environmental issues. Yet how do we want to
engage with an institution that we don’t agree with? There is an undeni-
able value in actually meeting person-to-person, bringing people
together for a common cause (though not necessarily a stress-free

Statement process: Education, Environment, Human

Rights and Economics

Our participants knew that we needed a clear, specific set of

recommendations. We shared common ground on human rights,
impacts from the financial crisis, human trafficking, government
corruption, natural resource exploitation and environmental
destruction. We also understood the potential for conflict between
bordering nations, especially from the Mekong and Salween dams and
the increasing presence of Chinese investors and corporations in natural
resource-rich economies.

The problems associated with the conventional education system are

something many youth are already focusing on. Vietnam youth

organizations such as the Vietnam Students Union are working to
address this issue, but are unable to take a rights-based approach
because of government intervention. Indonesian, Philippine and Malay
youth organizations are all fighting against privatization of schools and
pushing for youth participation in education system decision-making.
Thai youth from the Youth for Local Wisdom Network called for reform in
the conventional education system and made concrete suggestions
about the need for alternative education, which includes and supports
local communities.

Though the Lao government seems convinced by the “battery of

Southeast Asia” concept, Lao youth are able to articulate very clearly the
connections between large-scale development projects, such as dams,
and impacts on community and environment. Development in Laos has
meant a widening gap between the wealthy and poor (especially in
terms of education) and environmental destruction. Youth in other
ASEAN countries (including those not direct beneficiaries of Mekong
hydropower) saw this as an important issue and were supportive of a
strong statement regarding the environment. Moving beyond our
demands to stop large-scale hydropower development, we urge more
support for local, renewable and community-managed forms of
alternative energy.

Further, biofuel plantations are not the answer to our energy needs.
Such mono-cropping is already destroying community food resources in
Thailand and is increasingly present throughout the region. As Usup, a
Thai activist based in Chiang Mai pointed out, we must also look beyond
food security, understanding that it isn’t “connected to our rights, it just
talks about having something to eat…but food sovereignty is about
rights, our choices to plant what we eat, the safety of this food and the
diversity of foods to eat.”

Given the dedication to human rights by the Thai Volunteer Service

Foundation and ActionAid Thailand, the protection of human rights was
a key issue for our forum. As one Burmese youth living in a refugee camp
on the Mae Sot border pointed out, “we have our own rules and laws,
but they are only in the books.” These youth were incredibly brave to
stand in front of ASEAN and speak honestly about the Burmese people’s
struggle. The unveiling of the AICHR at the 15th ASEAN Summit made
clear that civil society’s interests were not taken into account, but we will
continue this work for justice and community rights regardless of ASEAN

The regional economy was a major sticking point for our group’s
process. Donaldson Tan’s in-depth understanding of regional politics,
economics and even engineering eventually became an essential part of
our critical engagement with ASEAN. Several Thai grassroots activists
were initially frustrated by Donald’s insistence about economic issues,
such as the inevitability of free trade and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
During the discussion on Fair Trade, Athit, a youth leader from Lao PDR
“Are we youth or politicians?” Can, an activist based in Chiang Mai,
Thailand continued, “we are agricultural countries, and we need to
exchange and help our neighbors. It’s more about exchange than trade
or racing to get rich.”

But through hours of exchange and debate, we forged common ground

about the need for fair trade and intervention on corporate exploitation
of workers and natural resources. We are believers in the power of local
economies and the role of youth social entrepreneurs in those
communities. This is where ASEAN should put its support if they truly
want to strengthen the regional economy.

Network process

When we first met each other, Che-Anne, a student activist from YPSEA
in the Philippines, called our network’s goal, “greater collaboration for
greater space.” Later, while introducing the Philippines’ situation to the
group, she concluded that “participation is not just about airing
grievances, we need to propose concrete solutions.” Based on our Youth
Statement, it’s clear that we’ve proposed concrete solutions. But can we
bring a network together? Can we call it an “ASEAN Youth Movement”?

Our access and use of communication tools remains an obstacle in

this process. At our Media Team meeting, Burmese youth explained
that e-mail from several major providers is unavailable, and most
importantly, they must be very careful with what they send and receive,
and how public that information can become. Most youth working in
rural communities have irregular access to e-mail. When we use these
tools, we tend to prioritize our communication as well. How can we make
contributing to or informing friends about
an upcoming event a priority?

The English language also remains a point of some contention. For some
Thai activists, English represents the loss of culture and local languages,

and for Che-Anne, from the Philippines; the ability to speak English
fluently is a legacy of her countries history of colonialism. Yet for others,
learning English is an essential tool for communicating to a larger
audience and accessing information for abroad. These differing
understandings of English will be an important challenge for keeping
our network connected.

The forum’s facilitator, Aphatson Sombunwatthanakun (P’Ae),

introduced concepts of a “transnational civil society” and “regional
people’s movement” to our group. We’ve created a group of friends in
nine out of ten ASEAN countries, but how do we generate a “space” for us
to work together. On one level, this space requires further funding,
so that we can host more forums and meetings to develop future
collaborative projects. On another level, this space requires commitment
from our Youth Forum’s participants. If youth are committed to further
communication and coordination, and bring their friends and allies into
the process, we can begin to open a space and engage the local with
the transnational and regional levels.


“I believe in the struggle of the people, not meetings among

government officials “ – Usup

Many youth don’t expect that much from ASEAN. The failure of
government leaders to participate in the ASEAN Peoples’ Forum was
certainly disappointing, but not surprising. The rejection of civil society
representatives in the Interface dialogue with ASEAN was just the icing
on the cake. How can ASEAN claim to be “peoples’ centered” while
refusing to dialog with the people themselves?

Many youth have said, “This doesn’t just stop at the ASEAN Summit.”
Our voices are coming from grassroots communities and pursue ASEAN
as another space for exchange. There are important common issues
between many ASEAN countries: incomplete or unequal educational
systems, youth job insecurity, a widening gap between urban and rural
youth, environmental and social impacts from large-scale development
and chemical-intensive agriculture.

At the end of her discussion on human rights and ASEAN, Dr. Sriprapha
Petchmeesri, now a member of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Human
Rights Commission (AICHR), told us all, “Being noisy is useful as well.”
It is clear that we will need to keep making government leaders listen to

We’ve developed a progressive agenda and taking action at the ASEAN

Peoples’ Forum (APF) was a first step. Running around the event in pink
t-shirts and carrying signs that ranged from “Local Wisdom” to “NO
EU-ASEAN FTA,” we made clear to the rest of civil society that youth are
committed to working on regional issues. We believe that working for
change ourselves is the most important.


The Group of Eight (G8) – refers to France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada, the United
Kingdom, Russia and the United States, finance ministers from these countries meet
together annually in an informal forum to discuss global economic and political issues.
The G8 will be replaced by the G-20 (the world’s 20 largest economies) this year.
BRIC – refers to the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, they emcompass over
25% of the world’s land coverage and 40% of the world’s population. These countries
have begun some political cooperation, but are not an official organization or alliance.
apathy – lack of interest or concern
statement – a clear expression of something in writing
movement – a group of people working together to advance a shared idea

T o P e a c e in A S E A N

Pichate Benjamart or Chate is an alternative education volunteer from

Thai Volunteer Service Foundation, based on Por Island in Krabi
province, southern of Thailand. His poem was beautifully written and
dedicated to people in ASEAN struggling for their better life.

The Legend
of Kang Sua
Ten Dam
by Aphatsorn Sombunwatthanakhun or P’Ae, Friends of Burma, Thailand

It had been more than ten years

since I heard about the struggle
of people against a dam called
‘Kang Sua Ten’ in Phrae province,
Northern Thailand. This is a
first time that I got a chance
to visit one of the strongest
people’s movements in Thailand
since they have been struggling
in 1980s. To protect their
communities and the last golden
teak forest of Thailand.

We got up in an early cold morn-

ing on 28 November 2009 to
travel by a pickup truck from
Chiang Mai to Kang Sua Ten in
Phrae province. To join a tree
ordination ceremony that local
people there organize for media
and people from other places
to learn about their struggle
and their way of life. I traveled
together with Karen youth from
Youth Training for Development
Program (YT), all of us were 11

P’Ning is the coordinator of this

organization and Can is one of
the YT staff. It was exciting for me
to visit Can’s home since I have

known him for a long time. The young Karen also
was exited for visiting another people movement
besides their land and forest movement in Chiang
Mai. Their parents and communities also have
been struggling for their community rights to live
and protect their forest for more than 15 years.

Finally, we arrived Sa-iab community at about 11

o’clock. Unfortunately, we missed the tree
ordination in the morning so later on Kul and P’Noi
brought us to visit some other places around the
communities. We took a rest for lunch at the
learning center of Takon Yom (sediment of Yom
River) Youth Group is located right in the middle of
community. I was impressed with all of colorful
flags and signs around the center and community.
Big signs painted with the strong words to show
their oppositions against the dam such as “The
forest alive-the people alive, build a dam-people
die”, “Our River, Our Lives”. There are also several
flags of other people’s movement that they have
been a member such as Assembly of the Poor and
La Via Campesina, the national and international
peasants’ movement in Thailand and other

We visited some places in Mae Yom National Park

together with Kul, P’Noi, a journalist and people
from another province. Yom River is one of the four
main rivers in the North flow to Chao Phraya River in
central plateau. Kang Sua Ten Dam was planned
since 1985 for irrigation propose which will create a
big reservoir and flood over the whole 10 commu-
nities in Sa-iab in Song district and some other
communities in Chiang Muan district in Phayao
province. Due to the local people movements as
well as other alliances throughout the country and
other countries, this project has been pending
amidst the controversial debates in Thai society for
more than decade. Particularly the issue of last
golden teak forest in Thailand that people have
been protecting after the cancellation of
concession in 1995. The concerns beside

environmental and social impacts from flooding are
also about the risk of earth quake in the area.

Kul took care of us in his community for the whole

trip. He and his wife, Bank, work together for an
active environmental organization called Living
River Siam, they are also a part of our Northern
Activist Community in Chiang Mai. Kul and Can
have been working for their community about ten
years ago.

They were strong leaders of Takon Yom youth group

since they were younger. Can is now a member of
Amnesty International (AI) and he also helps on
supporting the Karen youth and other youth
movements in Thailand. There are also other young
people from Takon Yom that become activists or
development workers that have been supporting
other people and environmental movements
throughout country more than 10 people. Thin
and Tho, sister and brother work for EarthRights
International, are also have been successfully
supporting the youth in Mekong region.

P’ Ning, she has been working with youth group and

local people here since she was a student in
Bangkok. She is one of the activists that supported
the people’s movement and youth group. She
walked through the community and had a chat to
local people like her own home. She arrived here
first time in 1994 since Kul and Can were high school
students and continued working for several years
here before working with other youth groups in the
South. Now she works with Karen youth group in
Chiang Mai. She never left the movements since she
was student as well. Another activist who is an idol
for the young people here is P’Harn, or Harnnarong
Yaowalert, a member of National Economic and
Social Advisory Council on natural resource sector.

It is amazing to see these young people that grew

up with the problems and pressure together with
their parents and community. Although the dam

Teak logs are reused for new house building Teak forest will be flooded
that will last long for hundred years under the reservoir

issue in their own community is not very stable yet, they are still able to
support other people’s movements strongly. Most of them graduated at
bachelor degree and some also got master degree. Actually they are
able to find some other good jobs for making money but they choose to
stand beside the movement and their own community.

The continuity from generation to generation has shown the long

commitment of activists and local people working on dam as well as
other environmental issues. According to the huge benefits from
building the dams economically and politically, the local people there
cannot stop their struggle. Their power of their spirits have been
spreading out everywhere and become seeds of hope in other places.

Photograph by Netting

ASEAN Youth Statement

We represent youth from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia,
Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. We gathered
together in Petchaburi, Thailand from October 15 to 17 2009 to share
our issues, concerns and experiences in our respective countries.

As the future of ASEAN, we affirm our role in shaping the development

of our region and want to express to the ASEAN leadership that we:

Believe in youth potential to become leaders at the local,

national and regional level.

Conscious of the solidarity and unity amidst the diversity

of beliefs and cultures in the region

Recognize that education is a state obligation towards

the people, particularly youth.

Fully aware of the impact of Climate Change on the survival

and livelihood of local communities.

Alarmed by the exploitation of migrant workers in

South East Asia.

Are deeply concerned by the lack of transparency withinASEAN

and the lack of opportunities for civil society’s participation.

Assert youth, stateless peoples, women, children, ethnic groups,

differently-able people and other groups must have the right to
participate in decision- making process for self-determination and
community-based sustainable development. Local wisdom and
environmental resource management are essential parts of the
community rights-based development process.

Supporting the establishment of the ASEAN Inter-governmental

Human Rights Commission (AICHR).

Emphasizing social responsibility of state and private actors in

economic development.

Urging for further the ASEAN way of initiating positive and

people-centered reforms and creating policies and mechanisms
for a people’s centered development.


Calls for the ASEAN member states to establish a

mechanism for youths to participate and monitoring the
development of community-based education curriculum
and formal education that fosters appreciation, under-
standing and cooperation domestically and within ASEAN,
including education on positive history, peace, human
rights, gender and cultural sensitivities, environmental
awareness, special education and life-skills.

Demands the ASEAN member states to allocate at least 6%

of the Gross National Product and give higher budget
allocation from the National Budget to the development of
formal and alternative education.

Endorses the establishment of an educational fund

equally based on the economic capacity of each country
contributed by all ASEAN member states to support better
access to good quality relevant education for all, especially
marginalized youths.

Recommends the sharing of best practices in all forms of

education among ASEAN member states.

Calls for the recognition of local, national and regional

independent youth groups/networks which will serve as
hub for information exchange, policy advocacy and
monitoring of issues such as human rights, peace building,
cultural exchange, sustainable development, etc.

Emphasizes the need to empower and protect the culture,

environment and other distinct identities of the local
communities, especially marginalized and ethnic

Promoting youth voluntarism and support community-

based vocational education to encourage youth to return
back to their homeland and serve their own community
development and sustainable livelihood.

Supports the formulation of an ASEAN Youth Policy by

youth representatives from a diversity of backgrounds. The

policy-making process should begin with the current Youth


Demand ASEAN member states to promote fair trade

and give higher priority to social, cultural, environmental
impacts in economic planning, by implementing
affirmative actions such as, but not limited to:
a. Protecting rights and food sovereignty of small-scale
producers such as farmers and fishermen.
b. Monitor and intervene in anti-competitive practices by
industrial firms in the fishing, agricultural and cottage
industries against small-scale producers.
c. Monitor and protect migrant workers’ rights.

Recommends ASEAN members to use Gross National

Happiness (GNH) to replace Gross Domestic Product as an
indicator to measure socio-economic progress.

Calls upon ASEAN member states and civil society to

promote and monitor on effectiveness of Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) in the private sector.

Urges ASEAN member states to accommodate youth

entrepreneurship by protecting local markets against
unfair competition due to market liberalization.

Reminds the ASEAN member states to commit to the

expansion of domestic economic infrastructure based on
needs of local communities.

Calls upon the ASEAN member states to collectively

address the negative impacts of trade imbalances due to
ASEAN Free Trade Agreements.

Demand for civil society to be able to conduct

independent assessment of economic, social and
environmental impact with the genuine participations of
local communities prior to trade negotiations.

Urges the expansion and strengthening of “decent work”
standards according to the ASEAN Charter, especially in
regards to young workers, by conducting assessments of
local employment.


Demands the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Human Rights

Commission (AICHR) to be an independent body which is
capable of conducting investigation on violations of
human rights in a fair, accountable and transparent

Demands the AICHR to be pro-active on the rights of

youths and students such as but not limited to the rights:
to organize and conduct Human Rights campaigns; to
form youth and student unions; to political and civil
expression such as peaceful demonstration; to education
and academic freedom.

Secure ASEAN and its members to implement the

Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) as well as
follow other international Human Rights mechanism to
protect and promote all human rights.

Recommends the revision of the ASEAN Charter in

the principle of ”Non-intervention” according to serious
human rights violation cases to allow:
a. strengthening mechanism to protect human rights in
the region.
b. building peaceful settlement of internal and trans-
boundary conflicts on a regional level.


Calls upon ASEAN member states to decrease dependency

on fossil fuels and jointly develop sustainable alternative
energy without negative impacts to environment and

Urges ASEAN member states to promote the transfer

of energy-efficient and/or environmentally friendly

Demand the ASOEN to cooperate with civil society to

pressure corporations to internalize social and
environmental costs in their projects and industrial
processes based on established international protocols on
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Social Impact
Assessment (SIA) and Health Impact Assessment (HIA).

Demands the ASOEN to support the management and

prevention of all trans-boundary environmental impacts
from destructive development projects.

Calls upon for ASOEN to recognize local knowledge

for sustainable livelihood for local and natural resource

Demands the elimination of the use of large-scale

hydro-power and nuclear power plants from CDM.

My Mekong River
by Preeyanut Kamsai, Sixth grade student, HuayKhob-Huay Hiam School,
Pak Chom, Loei province, Thailand.

The Mekong River is important for

lives. It is the borderline river
between Thailand and Lao. In
the past, fisherman and villagers in
general will find food from the river.
The river flows through many
countries. It is a very long river.

The Mekong River is fertile and there are many kinds of fish. I am happy
when I see beautiful scenery and nature of the Mekong. My grandpa goes to
fish in the Mekong. Sometime, the villagers plant vegetable on an empty
land of the Mekong for food and sale. The Mekong River is essential for the
villagers living. The Mekong River has many kinds of fish and some villagers
go to fish for their food. Atmosphere and scenery of the Mekong is beautiful.
Sometime, tourists come to visit and take pictures of the Mekong. Strand in
the Mekong has small bushes and beautiful and colorful shells hide in the
rocks. In April, the Mekong has many ponds. There are shrimps rest in the
Mekong rocks and people go to get them for food.

Some people might think that the Mekong is not important, but for me it is
very beautiful place and essential for all villagers living. I like to see the
Mekong and riverine animals live happily. So, we must help each other to
protect the Mekong River and for its beautiful nature.

This essay was compiled and translated by Tipakson Manpati

or Saiaew, our friend from Mekong School Alumni. Saiaew joined
Thailand’s Children’s Day this year in Pak Chom district, Loei
province (the Northeastern or Esan region), together with
a group of active youths from northeast universities. She kindly
shared this with us, which had written by one of students
participating in the writing competition on the topic of ‘My Mekong River’.

ASEAN Youth Movement
Activities Update Stop Hutgyi Dam
Updated from Mook ,Tuck, Netting, and other friends.
In Bangkok, Thailand. On 23 November 2009, ASEAN
Youth Movement joined with many organizations
such as Friends of Burma, NGO-COD North, TACDB and
TERRA in front of the Parliament House to protest
against Hutgyi dam construction on Salween River.
Moreover, building Hutgyi Dam is also conflicted area
in Karen state which means human rights violation
would severely happen in this area. Though the PM.
Abhisit Vejjajiva or any Minister did not appear and
receive petition letter, it was handed to Ajaan Sriprapa
Petchmeesri, ASEAN rights committee for continuously

Youth Partnership for Human Rights

Updated from Miles on 10 December 2009, Bangkok, Thailand - The newly -
organized Youth Partnership for Human Rights (YPHR) hosted its first Human
Rights Workshop at the October 14th Memorial Foundation Building.
The workshop educated youth on important Human Rights issues and
mechanisms to strengthen networking between YPHR member groups, and
to raise awareness about current human rights issues in Southeast Asia. YPHR
is the organization including over 15 organizations, and it focuses on human
rights. Besides, the activity was held after the inaugural Human Rights Festival
in Ubon Ratchathani Province early this year, the second HRF followed
successively, organized and led by groups of university students from Council
of International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and Khon Kaen University.

Learn more about each event at

Climate Justice! From Chiang Mai!
Updated from P’Ae who is a member of Northern Activists Community
and Northern Peasants Federation (NPF) on 9 December 2009 joint with
the Northern Climate Change Network and other civil society groups as
well as students and youth groups in Chiang Mai organized the
Climate Justice Campaign according to the Asian Climate Action Day in
Copenhagen, Denmark. The parade of tricycle and bicycles went to
submit the peoples’ letters to different consulates to demand them to
cut greenhouse gas emission and pay the debt that they have made on
climate change. Local Thai people, indigenous peoples, foreigners and
journalists more than over 200 lives had joint together to the American,
British, French, Chinese and Japanese consulates. The question is “Will
do they follow the submit letter to cut those gas?”

For more information

Road 2 Peace
Updated from Bennett on 21 December 2009, Thai Volunteer Service Foundation
and ActionAid Thailand hosted the forum called “Road to Peace” which
addressed the current political conflict and opened a space for youth to exchange
and develop ideas for supporting peace and solidarity between the people
of both countries between Thai and Cambodia. Furthermore, this kind of
democratic space allows for free speech and our right to information to facilitate
civil society’s participation in government policy and politics. When youth
activists, well-respected academics and NGOs can gather to examine this crisis
and think about solutions in solidarity with our friends in Cambodia, a peoples’
centered process takes place that we fail to see in the government.
Regional Update

Cambodia Update
Reported by Monorum Som, CVS, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Seven hundred participants attended ‘The International

Volunteer Day’ on December 5th-6th. The two-day event
was organized by United Nation Volunteer (UNV),
Cambodian Volunteer for Society (CVS), YRDP, VSO, Youth
Star and other 37 co-organizer organizations. The main
purpose of this event was to promote volunteerism to
youths and make collaboration about volunteerism
in Cambodia. The highlight of the event was announcing
a ‘volunteer directory book’ and about volunteer
organizations in Cambodia. Newsletters and magazines
about voluntarism activities and community development
projects were distributed to participants. This conference
has widened their perspectives on volunteerism locally and
internationally and it encouraged them to take a first step in
the volunteer walk of life. Volunteerism is very important
for people in Cambodian society, especially the new
generation. People cannot live alone in society. We need
to give helping hands to build a better society together!

For more information about this movement,

go to
Singapore Update
Reported by Donaldson Tan, The Online Citizen

A delegation of 15 youths from ECO Singapore, representing the youth

sector of Singapore civil society, attended the Copenhagen Climate
Change Conference (COP15). They were there to lobby other delegates,
to engage media and to work with other participants to influence
international climate change policy. At the height of the leaked danish
text controversy, Amira Karim staged an intervention at the plenary
session, condemning developed nations of carbon colonialism. The ECO
Singapore delegation discovered that Asian youths are generally
under-represented at such international conferences. Towards the end
of the COP15, ECO Singapore announced their plan to launch a Asian
Youth Climate Network, seeking youths from all over Asia, to come
together to influence international climate change policy.

ECO Singapore can be contacted at

Malaysia Update
Reported by Ryan Gan Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)

The recent landmark ruling by the Malaysia

High Court to allow the Catholic newsletter
Herald to use the word ‘Allah’ in its Malaysia
Language edition, was followed by a spate
of attacks on several churches.

A dialogue was needed to promote understanding between different

religions without resorting to violence. Hence, on 11 January 2010,
a forum, titled ‘Allah’: Siapa yang punya? (‘Who owns ‘Allah’?), was
co-organized by Free Public Forum, University Malaya Islamic Students
Organization, and the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
(KLSCAH) Youth. The panelists included academics, religious leaders and

The forum on 11 January 2010 at the KLSCAH was attended by

approximately 900 people from different backgrounds. Theforum lasted
for 3 hours. Different opinions and arguments were presented during
the forum and the event proceeded calmly without any untoward
incident. "This reflects that Malaysians are mature enough to openly
discuss issues without resorting toviolence," said the organiser of the
public forum on the “Allah” issue.

Indonesia Update
Reported by Ahmad Fikri Arief, Initiatives of Change (IofC), Jakarta Indonesia

One hundred twenty students from 50 high schools and

pesantrens (Islamic Boarding School) in Solo, Central Java and
Bandung, West Java-Indonesia declared SAVE-Indonesia
(Students Against Violent Extremism). In their declaration, the
students stated 10 points, among them; accept differences,
respect diversities, anti violence and discrimination, and peace
loving. The declaration is part of a series of programs Indonesian
Student Peace Camp in 2009 which was held on 17-20 December
2009 in Tawangmangu, Karanganyar, Central Java and on 27-30
December in Lembang, Bandung West Java. Camp theme
“Seeding Peace, Harvesting Harmony” was organized by the

Center for Pesantren and
Democracy (CePDes) Jakarta
to work with Initiatives of
Change (IofC) Indonesia and
Nahdlatul Ulama Students
Association (IPNU). This camp
activity began with concern
the emergence of radical and
violent movements that use
doctrines and dogmatisms of
religious values by targeting
students as its main goal. The students peace camp seek to protect
Indonesia youth from exclusive, intolerant, and discriminatory attitudes
and attempt to provide them with inclusive, tolerant, and peaceful
attitudes. For four days, participants get a lot of experience open and
honest dialogue; recognize the identity, leadership, anti-violence
movement, conflict management and team building games. Students
from these institutions trained so that they will be able to further
develop network in their schools or environments. Through this
program, it is expected that intolerance, violence in the name of
religion and terrorism will become a never reccurring history.

To learn more about IofC’s project, go to

Reported by Pham Trong Nhan, social worker student,
Dong Thap University, South Vietnam

November 10-11, 2009 - Dong Thap University in the south of Vietnam

hosted the annual conference “Social Workers: The Factor of Change” and
celebrated the “12th Anniversary of Social Work” in Vietnam.
The two-day conference brought together around 300 participants from
all over Vietnam, including social worker students, lecturers, researchers
from social work program and social workers and NGOs from both local
and international organizations. In the conference, participants learned
and shared about their experiences on community development and
the future of social development in Vietnam. Further, social worker
students from several universities in Vietnam performed in cultural
shows and exhibited their social development projects. Next time, the
13th Anniversary will be hosted in Ho Chi Minh City.

Reported by Nikki Delfin,
Generation Peace, the Philippines

Generation Peace or GenPeace from the Philippines celebrated the

International Day of Peace on 21 September 2009. The objective of
activities was to use the day as a starting point for the discussion of
different peace and conflict issues in the country. The first activity
was Peace mosaic and the wall of peace. The wall of peace was
created by youth leaders from different communities and youth

The second one was A GenPeace Mini-Documentary: A Story of Peace,

the different youth peace stories were gathered and made into
a mini-documentary which highlights the different realities
of violence in the country. And last activities was Peace Day
Celebration. It is the celebration of the International Day of Peace by
gathering differentstakeholders to peace government leaders, NGOs,
youth and students organisations, religious, women and spiritual
formations. They made the human peace sign, unveiled the peace
wall and the screening of mini-documentary.

Moreover, on 6 October 2009, GenPeace supported the initiative, and

marched the symbolic ½ kilometer-walk in Manila. Banners calling
for peace, nuclear disarmament and non-violence were waved along
the way. The international marchers from Latin America, Europe and
Asia also participated. Schools and youth organizations mobilized
participants to the event that had the gymnasium jam-packed and
really festive.

The Collaboration for Young Generation in
Mekong Region or CYM, Thai Volunteer
DIARY Service’s regional program has just released
the ‘Mekong Youth Diary for Peace: Listen
OF HOPE to Our Voices, Join the Change’. Over 2,000
copies have been given away to thousand of
youth across the Mekong region in Burma,
Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The goal of this diary for peace is to tell the story of peoples’ alternatives
through the eyes of the young generation and to raise awareness about
sustainable development to the public. In doing this, it aims to increase
the dialogue between young activists and across country borders,
in an attempt to find a more sustainable solution to development for the
entire region.

Through this work, CYM has realized the importance of peace building
to overcome prejudices, biases and nationalism that have created
hostilities throughout our history. We believe that this Mekong Youth
Diary for Peace will be one of the creative channels to bring the voices of
Mekong youth together to be heard for change.

We hope that this collective piece of work will lead us to join hands and
develop mutual understanding, trust, friendship and solidarity as we
seek to build a better society together.

Read more about the online diary and raise your voice of peace, be sure to check it out

A Chance to WIN a copy of the Mekong Youth Diary for Peace!

CYM Team has ten copies of the diary to give away.

Raise your voice for peace on the topic of ‘My Dream
about Mekong Region’, in no more than 100 words.
The ten most interesting entries will receive a diary
and have their words published in our website.
Email to

HURRY UP, deadline is March 31, 2010! Who knows?

You might be the winner of a cool diary from us!