Statement on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by H.E. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Singapore, at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, 24 Sep 2018

26 Sep 2018

Thank you, Mr President.

Distinguished guests,


1        I have the honour to speak on behalf of the 10 Member States of ASEAN including my own country, Singapore.

2        It is timely for the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit to be convened during the High Level Week of the UN General Assembly, to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela. ASEAN endorses the political declaration adopted during the opening session. In Mr Mandela’s own words, “Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.”  I believe all of us will conclude that Mr Mandela transformed his country, but he also changed the world.

Mr President,

3        Southeast Asia and South Africa are geographically very far apart.  But such distance has in no way lessened the impact Mr Mandela had on ASEAN, both on our individual Member States and as a regional grouping.  The ideals embodied by Mr Mandela – quiet dignity, extraordinary compassion and unflinching integrity – these have inspired generations throughout our region.  Indeed, Southeast Asia shares fond memories of Mr Mandela. In 1997, he visited Southeast Asia and while in Singapore, met our founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and he delivered the Singapore Lecture.  Mr Mandela spoke of coming to the region to “rekindle old relationships”, and he urged us to forge strong multilateral ties. While in Indonesia, he stressed the need for “Unity in Diversity”, and observed that both South Africa and Southeast Asia had much to learn from each other, especially how we view diversities and different cultures as a source of strength for our communities, not a source of division.  More than two decades later, Mr Mandela’s message continues to resonate.

4        Throughout his life, Mr Mandela was a champion for peace and reconciliation.  These ideals continue to resonate with us. Since the inception of ASEAN in 1967, we have worked to create a culture of dialogue, cooperation and consensus, in order to support our common effort to achieve sustainable development for the betterment of the lives of all our peoples.  Through an open, inclusive, ASEAN-led regional architecture, we have continued to engage all the major countries to maintain peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

Mr President,

5        Let me conclude by expressing ASEAN’s deep respect for his legacy.  A legacy that has inspired, and continues to inspire all of us in Southeast Asia.  We will do our best to emulate these ideals, to enhance regional peace, security and prosperity, and to uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter.  Finally, we are reminded by Mr Mandela’s wise words: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”  Long may the memory of Mr Mandela remain strong in us. Along with all of us around the world, we in Southeast Asia will not forget Mr Mandela and his profound contributions to the international community.


6        Thank you.

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