Yale-NUS students launch Model ASEAN conference

19 August 2014

Pioneer conference to raise awareness on global politics has attracted over 150 students from the region

Yale-NUS College will host over 150 students from pre-tertiary institutions in Singapore, India, Indonesia and Vietnam at the pioneer Yale-NUS Model ASEAN Conference, a student-run conference which will be held from 22 to 24 August 2014, at University Town (UTown), National University of Singapore.

This inaugural conference aims to raise awareness on regional politics among junior college-level or equivalent students. It is the first time a local university is organising a premier Model conference focusing on ASEAN. Student participants will represent an allocated country and adhere to protocols of an actual ASEAN summit, with discussions on real-world issues that are particularly relevant to the ASEAN region, with topics ranging from the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, to the Mekong Biodiversity Preservation, Free Trade Agreement consolidation and energy security.

The opening ceremony for the conference will be graced by Guest-of-Honour, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and former Ambassador to the UN, Professor Kishore Mahbubani.  Ambassador Chan Heng Chee, Ambassador-at-Large with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Singapore’s representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), will officiate the closing ceremony. Students attending will also interact with Yale-NUS students and experience some aspects of the College’s residential living.

The Yale-NUS Model ASEAN (YMA) conference is organised by the Yale-NUS International Relations and Political Association (YIRPA), and is sponsored by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), Singapore Airlines, REACH (Reaching Everyone For Active Citizenry @ Home) and Yale-NUS College. Students from NUS, Peking University and the London School of Economics will also play important roles at the conference.

Jared Theodore Yeo, Yale-NUS’ Class of 2017 and Secretary-General of YMA 2014, shared, “Our team hopes to promote and enhance Southeast Asian politics and ASEAN diplomacy for pre-tertiary students in Singapore and the region. It’s exciting that students are coming in from so many countries, and we hope they leave with a keener understanding of real-world issues, and can envision creative solutions. We hope they will take this experience back to their communities beyond the conference.”

YIRPA, a student organisation that was formed in July 2013, has actively attended Model UN conferences all over the globe, and its student leaders were inspired to establish YMA to inspire youth of our neighbouring countries to address the issues of our regional political landscape.

As part of their community outreach efforts, YIRPA has also started various activities catering to audiences beyond Yale-NUS College. In May 2014, YIRPA launched a MasterClass to teach students from local high schools and tertiary institutions about the Model UN experience. The first MasterClass was a one-day workshop that attracted over 100 students from secondary schools, junior colleges, and other tertiary institutions in Singapore.

YIRPA was also the main organiser of the World Scholar’s Camp in June 2014 for finalists of the World Scholar’s Cup Global Round 2014. Participants came from prestigious high schools such as the National High Jakarta School in Indonesia, Collegiate American School in the United Arab Emirates, and Alliance High School in Kenya, among many others, to improve their debating techniques. Over 2,300 students from more than 30 countries attended the World Scholar’s Cup in June 2014. The World Scholar’s Cup is a global academic tournament held annually, where students compete within their regions to make it to the Global Round.

Professor Kishore Mahbubani
Professor Kishore Mahbubani is the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy. He was Singapore’s former Permanent-Representative to the United Nations, and has decades of experience as part of Singapore’s Foreign Service. Professor Mahbubani served two stints as Singapore’s Ambassador to the UN, and has held the Presidency of the UN Security Council twice, in 2001 and 2002. Professor Mahbubani was recently named on the Top 50 World Thinkers for 2014 in British current affairs publication Prospect.

Ambassador Chan Heng Chee
Ambassador Chan Heng Chee is Chairman of the National Arts Council (NAC), Ambassador-at-Large with the Singapore Foreign Ministry, and concurrently, Singapore’s Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). She is also Chairman of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities in the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). Ambassador Chan is a member of the Yale-NUS College Governing Board.

Yale-NUS International Relations and Political Association
The Yale-NUS International Relations and Political Association (YIRPA) is one of the largest and most active student organisations at Yale-NUS College to date. There are 42 members of diverse nationalities and ethnicities active in the organisation. YIRPA promotes awareness about diplomacy and politics by engaging the community in international and local issues.

They have represented Yale-NUS in conferences held in Singapore, Taiwan, India, China and Korea, and have clinched awards at each conference attended. At the Asian International Model UN organised by Peking University and held in Beijing, China, they were awarded a school delegation prize that ranked Yale-NUS as one of the top schools of the conference.

In March 2014, they launched Coffeehouse Conversations, an informal speakers series for the Yale-NUS community. The first speaker was Ms Nicole Seah, a member of the National Solidarity Party in Singapore, who talked about her personal experiences in local politics.

YIRPA has several strategic and valuable external partners, including REACH, Singapore Airlines as the official airline, and the World Scholar’s Cup. YIRPA also partners with the NUS Political Science Society.

For media enquiries, please contact: publicaffairs@yale-nus.edu.sg