Jonathan Young, Member of the New Zealand Parliament and head of the country’s delegation to APPF-26. (Photo: APPF-26 Organiser/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Jonathan Young, Member of the New Zealand Parliament and head of the country’s delegation to APPF-26, shared his views on the ongoing 26th Annual Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF-26) in an inclusive interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency.

Question: This year, the APPF meeting is focusing on parliamentary partnership for peace, innovation and sustainable development. What do you think about the theme?

Answer: I think it is an excellent and very timely theme, particularly around the area of innovation because we are living in the era of critical changes to health, population and economy. It is very important for the parliaments around the Asia – Pacific to keep a brief of all the changes.

We’re talking about the fourth industrial revolution which happens so rapidly that not many governments can see where it is going to go but we know that it is bringing huge enhancement into the area of healthcare, culture, transport, and digital communications. As it is bringing information to all of our population, we are looking at a far more connected world and cross-culture globe. So it is important for APPF to have a vision, to understand and embrace the technological revolution.

The theme around peace is also very important because trade does not exist without peaceful relationships, and peace is also about stability. With the rapid changes, all we need is a government who can work through all the changes that are coming into our societies in an intelligent and proactive way.

Question: This is the second time Vietnam has hosted an APPF meeting. What do you think of the Vietnamese National Assembly's effort and contribution to the event and the forum at large?

Answer: I think the way that the forum has been organised and presented is absolutely excellent and completely world-class. I think it has given a great platform for the exchange of ideas and meeting of people. My congratulations to the National Assembly for hosting an excellent forum and also for the warm hospitality!

It is just wonderful to see that Vietnam is becoming a very value partner of New Zealand. We see an increasing number of visitors coming to Vietnam and I have to say, every person I have met that have come here and come back to New Zealand has very positive stories about experiences here.

Question: Today, the first plenary session was about political and security matters. What does discussing these issues mean for the future of the Asia-Pacific?
 
Answer: I think it is incredibly important. When you think about the past of Asia and the conflicts it has been involved in and how that has affected population, peace and security are so important for the world's wealth and wellbeing of people.

Besides, we are living in the era now where far greater appreciations of value that people bring to the table. So we understand the aspiration of the Vietnamese leadership to continue to build the nation and bring people prosperity, the same as we have in New Zealand.

Question: This year, New Zealand sent to the APPF-26 a draft resolution on economic integration. How did that happen?

Answer: It is because everything that we want to do in our nation socially has to have an economic base to pay for it. And I think strong economy and strong trade can create strong society through high level of employment, or high level of income, or greater ability for the country to reach out and care for the vulnerable and to ensure the strong education and training so people can participate in this new modern economy with right skill sets.

When we talk about integration, what we are seeing is as much as integration between countries now, alongside of the economic integration through trade agreements. We are seeing huge integration of technology and information that it is like an airy breeze around all of us all the time. People transact business via the Internet, so we have the information integration happening without us even knowing about it.

Some of our challenges are around data. I got my cellphone which I bought to receive information but it became so sophisticated and now extracts information from me. How do we, as parliaments, handle that? Whose data does it belong to? How do we protect people and individual privacy? How to ensure that it is used for the benefit of the people? These are some of the issues that we face.

Thank you for your time!-VNA