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(File pix) Datuk Hamidah Naziadin (right) presenting a certificate to Siriphone Siriphonogphanh at the closing of the CIMB Young Asean Leaders 2018 conference recently. On the left is Professor Datuk Dr Rokiah Omar. Pix by Mohamad Shahril Badri Saali

AS Asean cities grow and progress towards becoming smart cities, their development aspects include major components like buildings, mobility, energy usage, communities, infrastructure and the Internet of Things (IoT).

These components are the heartbeat of a smart city, and each requires special attention and expertise, which should be taught to future leaders to ensure good governance.

In an effort to make Asean youth realise that they are the driving force of their countries’ development, CIMB Foundation recently organised the sixth edition of its CIMB Young Asean Leaders (CYAL) 2018 conference to introduce participants to the green and prosperous lifestyle of a smart city.

This year, CIMB Foundation and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) had joined forces for the fourth time to host CYAL in Kuala Lumpur from Oct 19 to 24.

Themed “Resilience and innovation towards a green, prosperous lifestyle: Smart city”, CYAL aims to teach exceptional student leaders from Asean the skills in developing smart cities across the region and beyond.

Indonesian student Muhammad Afi Ramadhan M. Zuhri, 19, said it was a rare opportunity to meet and work with youths from different corners of Asean.

“We put all that we learned into practice by working together to builda3D model of a future smart city.

“I really liked this segment because it pushed me to work beyond my limits ― bridging differences in opinion, yet still creating an outstanding masterpiece,” said Afi Ramadhan, who is studying accounting at Syiah Kuala University in Banda Aceh.

The four-day conference discussed various topics like the Asean identity, developing a smart city from the industry’s perspective, green building development in Malaysia, and leadership skills for the workforce of tomorrow.

Key speakers included CIMB Group chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Aziz, Malaysian Green Building Federation president Chan Seong Aun, Urbanice Malaysia chief executive Norliza Hashim and UKM CITRA senior lecturer Dr Wahiza Wahi.

For Afi Ramadhan, urban development is important as more people keep migrating to the cities, resulting inahigh demand for better living standards.

“A youth leader is responsible for creating awareness on smart city issues.

“This means I’ll return and use social media to encourage those around me to understand this matter for more impact,” he said.

Despite the differences in language and culture, Afi Ramadhan found himself at ease when sharing his views on the values and characteristics that make up the Asean identity.

“Asean countries are different, yet we share a lot of similarities, such as the value of togetherness and a good sense of belonging.

Makings of smart leaders of tomorrow “For example, my group members gave their best in the projects and, as group leader, I really appreciated this sense of togetherness shown in reaching the same goals.”

The objective of CYAL is to support the exchange of ideas and promote learning and cross-cultural experiences among these leaders.

Siriphone Siriphongphanh, 22, who is from National University of Laos, said the programme was an opportunity for her to learn and share experience with many inspiring Asean youths, besides brushing up on her leadership skills.

Now in the fourth year of an accounting course, Siriphone said she would use the experience and knowledge gained to reach out to her society on environmental issues.

“Environmental issues are part of living in a smart city. It is about using innovative ideas to improve the quality of life. As a young leader, I like to volunteer and help people. I always believe in the ‘give and take’ concept in being able to contribute to society,” she said.

CYAL also aims to uplift the quality of life through activities that promote sustainable development and good neighbourliness among Asean members.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia law student Gan Kok Jin, 21, said he understood the key elements in building a livable, sustainable smart city.

He said the conference had taught him social skills to become a youth leader one day.

“I like to share experience and knowledge with my colleagues, and try to adopt the good policies I learned from other Asean countries.

“I am lucky to have a good family and education. So, I want to give back to society. Always help people from the bottom of your heart and you will feel great when they are doing well,” said Gan.

The participants also put up a cultural show, where participants from each country were given four minutes to showcase their unique heritage in front of fellow delegates.

“We are challenged to learn so many traditional dances in just one night,” said Afi Ramadhan.

Videos of the participants’ performances were uploaded online for their compatriots back home to see.

CIMB Foundation chief executive officer Datuk Hamidah Naziadin said it was imperative that youths be empowered to help their countries shape the future of Asean.

“And what better time than during their undergraduate years, to inculcate in them the importance of embracing and promoting Asean’s diversity to maintain its strength, peace and prosperity?

“At the end of this conference, the participants will know the concept of an Asean smart city, understand components that drive such cities, and identify challenges so they can develop their own ideas to resolve them.

“They can propose smart city frameworks that benefit their communities and create an interactive web page,” she said at the closing ceremony at Menara CIMB recently.

Present was UKM University Community Transformation Centre director Professor Datuk Dr Rokiah Omar.

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