I am often asked in interviews and by people in general how I came up with the lyrics of The Asean Way. It ́s actually quite challenging to find a way to unite 10 different nations of very diverse characteristics and qualities with one song. It was even more difficult when such song had to be no more than 60 seconds long.
There were many questions then. How many words can fit into the song? How to capture the ASEAN spirit into these few lines in the lyrics? How to communicate with all the 600 million plus people in region through this English song while English is not our mother tongue? How to say who we are, what we aspire, etc, etc. How to express in one voice that we are one community with one vision and one common identity?
Fortunately, I was formerly an exchange student under the auspices of American Field Service Scholarship — now known as AFS Intercultural Programs — and the intercultural learning gained really helps bridge all kinds of cultural gap. Besides, I was for 21 years a journalist who had been interested in our neighbouring countries. I think that helps me understand all our ASEAN friends quite well.
In writing the lyrics, I was first telling myself that each word had to be meaningful yet easily understood since the majority of our population does not speak English. In the creative process, I was asking myself what I would love to see after our integration into one common community – the ideal way of the ASEAN. Then a few key words came to my mind… words like pride, bond, care, share, peace, prosperity, together – which are all very important elements in building a sustainable society. And to lace them up together in a song, I was thinking of the symbol of our common identity which is none other than the ASEAN flag. And there you go… The ASEAN Way.
My favorite lines in the song are: “We dare to dream. We care to share…together for ASEAN.” I think this is the very heart of it. If we wish to prosper as one, we should not be shy to dream –even the impossible dream — and then work together for the good of our region, without forgetting to care for, and share with, our brothers and sisters in the ASEAN. to dream. We care to share…together for ASEAN.” I think this is the very heart of it. If we wish to prosper as one, we should not be shy to dream –even the impossible dream — and then work together for the good of our region, without forgetting to care for, and share with, our brothers and sisters in the ASEAN.
Executive Vice President
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