World Economic Forum

Region's leaders cast an eye towards future

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 September, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 September, 2002, 12:00am

Recreating Asia - Visions for a New Century

By Frank-Jurgen Richter and Pamela C.M. Mar

Published by John Wiley & Sons

The setback of the 1997 Asian financial crisis has left financial commentators and market watchers wondering when a 'new era' will begin in the region.

Recreating Asia contends this new era is already in full swing and has left tracks in a range of areas - from daily life to business, government and society.

Editors Frank-Jurgen Richter and Pamela C.M. Mar offer an insightful commentary into the vision of Asia's government and corporate leaders.

The book is based on last year's 10th East Asia Economic Summit, held in Hong Kong. Richter is the forum's director, in charge of Asian affairs, while Mar oversees China activities and relationships for the Switzerland-based organisation.

The book is a series of essays written by regional leaders, such as Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa and World Trade Organisation director-general Supachai Panitchpakdi.

Business leaders also contribute to the book and include Sony chairman Nobuyuki Idei, the chief executive of public policy think-tank Civic Exchange Christine Loh, NTT DoCoMo president Keiji Tachikawa and Via Tehnologies president Chen Wen-chi.

The preface has been written by Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who believes China will be more a partner than a rival to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in the next 10 to 20 years.

In another preface, Australian Prime Minister John Howard continues his push for strengthening economic ties with Asia, saying Australia's standing in the region provides the right environment for this scenario.

'It is essential that economies not retreat into protectionist policies,' he warns.

Richter and Mar offer three frameworks within the book, which they say elucidate the most concrete changes that mark Asia's recreation:

Japan remains a contested ground but is closer than ever to moving beyond the status quo;

China will remain the region's rising star, at least for the next five years, and;

Southeast Asia has awoken and is taking action to regain competitiveness.

Recreating Asia, writes World Economic Forum founder and president Klaus Schwab in the introduction, 'gathers the most salient results' from last year's summit, and also underlines key trends which will define the next 10 years in the region.

The authors have done well to gather the region's leaders to contribute to the book, creating a unique collection of outlines for the future of Asia.

As Mr Lee writes: 'The reader will gain insights into one of the most dramatic economic and social transformations in the history of the world.'