Friday, October 11, 2013

Speech of Hon. US Secretary of State John Kerry at 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2013

US Secretary of State John Kerry in 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2013 @KLCC

Selamat Pagi... Good morning. Four thousand seven hundred delegates, 123 countries – this is really remarkable. And it’s a pleasure. Yes, it is remarkable.

And it’s a great, great pleasure for me to be in this beautiful, dynamic city. I want to thank Prime Minister Najib. Thank you so much for your welcome, your generous leadership.  And the Minister of Finance Two Husni, and the Government of Malaysia, I thank you all for your very generous hospitality and all of your Excellencies, and particularly if I may single her out, our Secretary of Commerce who is here, Penny Pritzker, and the First Lady I see here. Thank you, we enjoyed a wonderful evening the other night. Nice to see you here. 
I want to thank you for partnering with the United States to put together the largest-ever Global Entrepreneurship Summit ever conceived. And I especially thank you for promoting entrepreneurship through your policies, which benefit us all.

I also want to thank Startup Malaysia for the exceptional work that you’ve done on this Summit, and for working hard every day  They have their special cheering section over here. But I want to thank them for helping young people across the country – and around the world – to chase their dreams of building their own businesses. As we were walking in here, the Prime Minister said to me, “This is something people want more than anything else today, to start their own business.” Thank you also for bringing together the Global Startup Youth, who I understand are here in full force.  I was about to say they were here in full force, but they announced that themselves. 

And as you know, this Summit is very, very close to President Obama’s heart. I trust you also understand why the situation in Washington has kept President Obama close to home. But I woke up today to television reports that things are beginning to break a bit, so you can see it was worth his staying and important. But he will be back in Malaysia soon, I promise you. 

Let me reiterate very quickly, because I don’t want to spend time on it, that what is happening in our capital in Washington is really nothing more than a moment of politics, and it will pass. But I’ll say this: If only the small group of people who have held us back in these past days were as forward-thinking and collaborative as the people in this room, we would all do a lot better. 
Fourth Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2013
So I know the President is disappointed that he can’t be here today, but I assure you that his commitment to what you’re doing is as strong as ever – and he joins me in saying with great admiration: “Malaysia negara hebat.” 

It’s very fitting that this year’s Summit has brought us together in this incredible country. The many Malaysians who are turning novel ideas into new businesses are strongly supported by a government that is constantly rooting them on and encouraging them.

Malaysia’s Finance Ministry just launched the “One Met” program to train thousands in tech skills, and Prime Minister Najib’s government has set the ambitious and admirable goal of having small- and medium-sized enterprises comprise 40 percent of Malaysia’s GDP by 2015. That’s an extraordinary goal, and I’m confident Malaysia will meet it. If anyone can meet it, it’s Malaysia.

This is the country that reached for the sky not once, but twice, with the iconic twin towers that stand just outside this convention center.

And when most of the world was still discovering the World Wide Web in the 1990s, guess what? This country created Cyberjaya, the first city on earth to be fully wired with high-speed internet.

This nation has given the world visionary businesspeople like Jimmy Choo, who made his first pair of shoes at the age of 11. And by the time he was in his twenties, his designs were being worn on sidewalks and catwalks from Los Angeles to London.

And Tony Fernandes, who long before he started hosting “The Apprentice: Asia” – in fact, even before he even turned 30 years old – started the budget airline Air Asia. And with that bold vision, my friends, he revolutionized the way that people connect with one another throughout the region.

As I have walked into this hall and felt the energy here, I have to tell you it’s extraordinary all of the young people who are here. I’m sure you share that feeling. There’s an excitement here, an excitement about possibilities. I actually can almost feel my hair turning brown again. 

It astounds me to think that three in five citizens of ASEAN nations are under the age of 35. Sixty percent of your population. Just imagine what that means for all of the new products and the new services that Southeast Asia can bring to the world. My friends, it really is all in your hands.

And it’s equally fitting that we meet in Kuala Lumpur because this is a multi-cultural city at the heart of a multi-ethnic, multi-faith country, and history has proven time and again that diversity is one of the most important catalysts for discovery.

Here in Malaysia, people of different heritages have been in conversation for a long, long time. You see it in the open houses that you host during holidays, welcoming people of different faiths into your living rooms.

You see it in the Petronas Towers that I mentioned a moment ago, which are a beautiful fusion of modern engineering, traditional Muslim design - of an American architect, of Japanese and Korean construction, and a uniquely Malaysian vision.

Together, they all blended a masterpiece that is recognized around the world and a soaring reminder that Malaysia is much more than a marketplace. It is a human and an economic mosaic – and it is a model for the world. Your open-mindedness and cooperative spirit – these are literally the keys to the future.

When President Obama announced the creation of this Summit in Cairo four years ago, he did so because he understands that freedom of opportunity is humanity’s most powerful motivator.

This is true for all people, regardless of geography or gender, regardless of race or religion. It always has been true, and I’ve got news for you; it always will be.

What unfolded in the historic city of Cairo just a short time after the speech the President gave – and in Tunis, and in Tripoli, and in Sana’a – they all proved the point. The world watched young people just like you – young men and women with great aspirations. They watched them demand the chance to be able to fashion their futures, to be able to have a say in the future, to define it, and just like you are doing today as you turn your dreams into businesses.

President Obama also understands that entrepreneurship is about so much more than profits. It’s about how you build a society that values competition and compassion at the same time.

Photo courtesy of:
4th GES 2013 Facebook

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