Asian leaders look to 2020 with more hope than worry

Manama: Leaders of six Asian countries have expressed optimism that 2020 will be more positive than 2019, pledging policies that would be about hope, stability and success.


President Jokowi: 2020 is the year of challenges and opportunities

Jokowi Dodo, the Indonesian president, has clasped his fists as he shouted "freedom" during his inauguration. <Photo = Yonhap News

Joko Widodo clasps his fists as he shouts “freedom” during his inauguration (Yonhap)

By Eddy Suprapto

Jakarta: Indonesian President Joko Widodo thanked his people for being able to weather many challenges last year, vowing that 2020 will be a year full of challenges and opportunities. The president said, “I believe that the people will make a great New Year with harmony and unity, and that things will be better than usual.”

Indonesia’s administrative workers are still years away from moving to new office spaces in Kalimantan, but this year will be the stepping stone for the planned construction. To move the offices, the Indonesian Parliament has to formally agree to move the capital.

Meanwhile. President Jokowi was met by Abu Dhabi Prince Mohammed Bid Zayed Al Nahyan who has agreed to head a Steering Committee which has the role of advising the government and reassure foreign investors about the move. The President and the Prince will be joined by Softbank’s Masayoshi Son, who has previously said he wanted to work on Smart and Green City initiatives. To move the capital, the costs are estimated between $33 and $40 billion and such issue are likely to dominate politics this year.



President Jeenbekov: Positive changes will continue into the new year

President Sooronbay Jeenbekov (Kabar)

President Sooronbay Jeenbekov (Kabar)

Bishkek: In his New Year’s address, Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov said positive changes in 2019 will continue into the new year. The president also stressed that he successfully fulfilled the role of host of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) last year.

The President said in his New Year’s address that the nation’s digitalization is taking place, stressing that everything is achieved as a result of the people’s efforts.

At the end of his New Year’s address, the President declared the 2020 New Year as the “Year of Regional Development, the Digitalization of the State and the Support for Children,” and vowed to abide by international agreements and cooperation with Congress to improve democracy and welfare.



Prime Minister Mahathir: We Will Enter Developed Countries After 10 Years of Efforts

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad

Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said, “I have no doubt that all efforts in the last year will bear fruit this year, and the government will become the government focused more on listening and responding to public discontent.”

The Prime Minister also declared, “The realization of Vision 2020 that was announced 30 years ago is still uncertain, but if we invest another 10 years, the vision must be achieved.” Speaking before a crowd of about 80,000 people, Mahathir said “the success of each nation will contribute to the success of the nation.”

The Prime Minister concluded by saying “especially in the tourism industry. Kuala Lumpur ranked ninth among the most visited cities in the world in 2017, a result we can be proud of and our government’s efforts for the future will doubled.”

Dr Mahathir said, every Malaysian should help in welcoming the tourists by being friendly, smiling all the time, and trying to solve whatever problem they may face. One of the things that tourists are attracted to is to find the host hospitable, always smiling, serving them well, showing them the way and anything else that they ask to know Malaysia well, The Prime Minister said. Malaysia’s tourism industry continues to grow from strength to strength.

Malaysia has recently expanded ‘Visa on Arrival’ facilities to 13 entry points to ensure hassle-free entry for nationals from China and India, two of the fastest-growing outbound tourist markets in the world.



President Duterte: Never stop war on drugs and crime

President Duterte (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)(zcc)

President Duterte
(Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)(zcc)

By Alin Ferrer

Manila: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s New Year’s address, released on the onset of 2020, reflects an optimistic view that the government can overcome many of the problems facing the Philippines over the past year.

In 2019, the Philippine government suffered a variety of troubles due to the pressure on the promotion of human rights from the international community, the war on drugs, the gap between large infrastructure projects and natural disasters. Against all this, Duterte is preaching an end to corrupt practices, insisting on national solidarity in the new year.

In addition, the President stressed the continuation of the war on drugs that has been in place since his taking office in 2016 and pledged to raise civil servants’ salaries and a permanent peace deal between Muslims and communist rebels in the Philippines. Currently, the President maintains high credibility and popularity even though he is passing the middle term of his term.



PM Lee Hsien Loong: We will create an environment for construction of a fair society 

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (Yonhap)

By Ivan Lim
Honorary Chairman of the Asian Journalists Association, Director of ASEAN Regional Headquarters in Asia, Former Senior Reporter

Singapore: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his New Year’s address that he will create an environment in which the construction of a fair society takes place and that all people can enjoy the benefits of national growth.

The prime minister also vowed to protect the open economy, maintaining his opposition to the protectionist trend hovering around the world due to the U.S.-China trade war.

“All Singaporeans have the right to choose their dreams, and we will try to make sure that all peoples prosper,” he said. The Prime Minister’s statement highlights the importance of unity among the people of different kinds and his determination for the wealth of the nation. Singapore has yet to see its economic potential booming in the year 2020.


United Arab Emirates

Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid: We are looking at the new decade with reasonable optimism

Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

UAE Vice President, Ruler of Dubai Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

By Habib Toumi

Abu Dhabi: With the dawn of the New Year breaking over the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a moment for pause and reflection showed that the country is turning the page into a new decade with justified pride and reasonable optimism.

“We are leaving this year behind and we are proud of our government working teams, and we are full of excitement and positive energy for the year of preparation for the next 50 years to come,” Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and the Ruler of Dubai said as he emphasized that 2019 was a year full of achievements across multiple areas.

The nation has come a long way in the last 50 years. Each of the years since it became sovereign in 1971 defined the country and its people. Fortunately for them, there were grand visions. Had the country approached the years thinking small, it would not have become what it is today. Achievements anywhere are not born of fear. They are born of big dreams, bold decisions and great determinations.

“We are looking at the new decade with reasonable optimism, and I would like to stress that the past year is a year full of accomplishments,” Shaikh Mohammed said at the first Cabinet session of the year.

In 2019, the UAE launched dozens of new initiatives and projects, including the first National Strategy for Wellbeing, the Emirates Schools Establishment, allocated a fund to support and qualify Emirati jobseekers, and set out new objectives and decisions to support employment of its citizens. “We have created a new position for the UAE Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), and have issued a strategic economic resolution allowing 100 percent foreign ownership in UAE economic activities. We have also granted more than 2,500 golden residence permits to people with outstanding qualifications and investors, allowing them to be part of our success story and excellence.”

In 2019, the UAE adopted the National Space Strategy, received the flame of hope to kick off the Special Olympics and held the People of Determination Retreat.

In 2020, Dubai’s Expo 2020 global trade fair, for instance, is expected to give the UAE an economic boost of over $33 billion, according to consultants Ernst and Young.

The mega-event will add 1.5 percent to UAE’s gross domestic product per year over the period that started in 2013 and runs until 2031, said EY partner Matthew Benson.

Major new construction projects and other impacts of the six-month extravaganza (October 2020 -April 2012) will create some 50,000 jobs yearly over the same period.

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