Monday, May 19, 2008


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Discussion Board



Global Youth Symposium (GYS) is an international conference aimed at making a difference. First held in 2007, GYS deals with vital and pressing issues that affect the entire globe. Participants will produce roadmaps and strategies through intellectual and open discussions which are, most of all, practical and workable. It is no ordinary undergraduate conference that ends when participants leave because its impact is far-reaching and long-lasting as the resulting GYS Declaration will be sent to ruling governments, NGO’s and international agencies as we believe that youth have a right to speak up and the ability to provide fresh perspectives to the various problems which plague the global community.


Last year, GYS 2007 was organised by the Undergraduates’ Representative Council of the University of Malaya. This year, the University of Malaya’s Undergraduates Representatives’ Council is the organiser once again but GYS is breaking new ground because we are collaborating with UNESCO Club (UM) to make this event an even bigger success. We have set our sights higher, aiming for increased international participation and intensive dialogues. As the GYS Organising Committee president, Christine Chai says, “We not only aim to lift UM in the eyes of the world but to also create awareness among undergraduates of their roles as global citizens.”


In line with this year’s theme of Globalization, Global Youth Symposium 2008 will focus on three subtopics, namely:


  • Re-branding Capitalism
  • Environmental Responsibilities vs National Development
  • Media and its Evolving Role


As many as 150 well-versed and knowledgeable undergraduates from all around the world are expected to participate in this symposium and to be part of the GYS family. For six days, participants will be exposed to forums, discussions and cultural experiences which will broaden their minds and expand their horizons. Panellists of high calibre, knowledge and insight such as Professor Michael Northcott will be invited to share their opinions and expertise which will benefit the participants and guide them in their discussions.



Re-branding Capitalism


Capitalism had triumphed in the socio-economic systems battle of the 20th century and is now practiced practically worldwide. Global capitalism has increased the standard of living of many. Millions of jobs have been created, goods are abundant and food aplenty – up till now. This laissez-faire economy has caused a dramatic increase in inequality between the rich and the poor not just amongst countries but also within a country itself.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the lack of certain values is threatening the global economy as well as the welfare of mankind. There is a dire need for a virtuous, moral or ethical dimension in global capitalism which hitherto were sorely lacking because the very notion is foreign and deemed unacceptable in the doctrine of the primacy of the market. Bill Gates, perhaps the most successful capitalist in the world has pushed for creative capitalism which he described as: “a hybrid engine of self-interest and concern for others”. However, would this ‘hybrid’ still be true to capitalism? We face a minimum of two alternatives: firstly, to modify capitalism and its practices and secondly, to search for an alternative way for the global economy to function. Where will globalization take us?


Environmental Responsibilities vs National Development


For the past decade, the global community at large has begun to feel the impact of global warming especially on food production, health issues, poverty, natural disasters and so on. Accordingly, nations have come together at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to sign the Kyoto Protocol and most recently, APEC members concluded the Sydney Declaration, which attracted sceptics who question its implementation and effectiveness.


There are those who are concerned with the risks of future human-caused climate change while there are those who seek to avoid the risks posed towards economic development and growth. A balance has to be decided upon and adhered to if the earth is to have any hope for the future. However, not all nations are prepared to fully commit to this cause. Furthermore, there is no guideline to ensure each country suffers loss equitably. Aside from formulating protocols and agreements, perhaps it is timely for other alternatives to be identified to tackle this problem.


Media and its Evolving Role


The role of media is to disseminate objective information to the general public. However, the media is unable to carry out its full responsibility due to restrictions imposed upon mainstream media as well as the pursuit of self-interest. In response to this, the global community has both created and changed the role of alternative media to fill in the void. It has now become an effective ‘check-and-balance’ tool against mainstream media and an accelerator towards greater freedom of speech. However, not all mainstream media are mouthpieces of governments and neither are all alternative media responsible or independent. The emergence of blogging, for example, has brought a range of legal liabilities and unforeseen consequences: releasing proprietary or confidential information leading to political danger, defamation and loss of employment. Therefore there must be a balance between freedom of expression and responsible journalism which will lead to the question of how far does the freedom of speech hold and if laws should be put in place to curb abuse.