In my opinion, the most impressive speaker at the Youth Engagement Summit 2009 (YES2009) at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre earlier this week was Sir Bob Geldof.
At the very start of his talk, he made a caustic remark that 29 years ago, the Malaysian government of the day refused to let him perform in Kuala Lumpur. So he performed everywhere else in the region, including Singapore, except here. Congratulations. So now, we know that he is in the same good company as present-day artistes like Avril Lavigne, Beyonce et al. They never got to perform here either.
Then, he began relating the struggles and difficulties of his growing childhood, how he came to form the Boomtown Rats, his realisation that there was famine in Africa - "A continent just eight miles south of Europe" - how he galvanised action that culminated with the LiveAid and Live8 concerts, and then he went straight to the jugular with his critical view on change and how the youth of today are the leaders of change.
Here are choice quotes from his hard-hitting talk on change, as reported from the plenary hall via Twitter by The Star's R.AGE team. What else would you expect from Bob Geldof? He wasn't invited here to praise Caesar. To him, I'd say: I salute you for your frankness!
- The language of possibilities, the language of change is in Rock & Roll.
- Young people should always question, demand answers. Demand leadership and if the leadership is not coming, they must lead themselves.
- Everyone has the exact same potential, if they are given the exact same opportunity.
- If we are to change the condition of the poor, we must deal with one empirical problem. The problem is called poverty, and it can be resolved. It can be eliminated, we have seen it happen. China as an example.
- We live in a world of growing inequality. It is the signature feature of our time.
- Man does not act in self-interest, man acts on the needs of the moment.
- Normal thinking got us where we are today. We need radical voices to get us out. And we can get out.
- You can do anything you want. If you want change, you must be the change. (a paraphrasing of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi)
- All progress depends on unreasonable people.
- The reason why governments say that youths are too young and immature, is because they are afraid of them.