27 November 2013 : Address by the Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano at the ITU Connect Asia-Pacific Summit, Bangkok, Thailand, 18 November 2013.
Your Excellency Yingluck Shinawatra
Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand
Dr. Hamadoune Toure, Secretary General of the ITU
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government
My Fellow ICT Ministers
Heads of International Organizations and Businesses
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is with great honour to be here today in Bangkok for the ITU Connect Asia-Pacific Summit.
As we are gathered here to design a roadmap for this region for the next seven years in the field of broadband and digital technologies, and how they, at best, can help all our people whoever they are, and wherever they live, let us remember at this moment, all those who were affected by the super typhoon over the past week, especially the people of the Philippines. Some have lost loved ones and their belongings. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this most difficult time.
We have seen in this tragic event the importance of using telecommunications and digital devices to save lives and connect people, let alone getting the assistance to those that needed them most. It also goes to show how vulnerable our region is to natural disasters, and I fully support this proposed vision of smartly digital not only to serve its purpose but also to help those in need and want to live.
With this common vision, everyone can equitably access, use, create and share information and knowledge to empower individuals, communities, industries and countries to achieve sustainable development, not only in accordance with the purpose and principles of the United Nations and the Declaration of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), but to ensure our citizens live a better life.
This Summit will no doubt succeed in achieving its goal of helping to mobilize the human, financial and technical resources needed to connect the unconnected and to strengthen the important role of ICT in our region.
Tonga is currently embracing the same aspirations. With the vision of His Majesty King Tupou VI, Tonga in August this year we have connected to the fibre optic submarine cable system for the first time. It’s historical and marked the beginning of a new era in our quest in development. It is certainly an exciting time as we now experiencing much faster Internet speed with higher bandwidth capacity, at cheaper and more affordable prices.
The overall benefits to the people of Tonga are immense, in particular to the various sectors of the economy including Education, Health, Tourism, Agriculture, International Trade, Banking, Businesses, Churches, Civil Society, NGOs, and the work of Government, to name a few.
At the same time, Government is working on appropriate measures to protect our people especially our children from side impacts of these technological advancements, while at the same time, maximizing their overall benefits.
Government is also working on an ICT Investment Strategy to attract investors, especially foreign direct investments, to make use of the capacity provided by the cable system and to provide more opportunities for our people.
But we wouldn’t have ever achieved it without the assistance of our development partners and donor agencies, and all those who were willing to lend a hand, even moral supports.
In this regard, I would like to express the Government of Tonga’s sincere heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to these people - the ITU, the World Bank, ADB, various Governments, International agencies, and even certain helping individuals for all your assistance.
And as with the theme of this Summit, I am sure this is only the beginning of our working partnerships, hand in hand for years to come.
Indeed, ICT has offered a historic and unprecedented opportunity not only to bridge the digital divide between us as people and nations of this region, but also to place its potential at the service of humanity to make our world a better place.
As leaders, we must not succumb to the temptation of becoming a region which is captured by a rights-based-ideology that politicizes the people under our care. The ITU is aptly placed to ensure that this will not occur as is evidenced by the progress made thus far.
Before closing, please allow me on behalf of the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga and my delegation to convey our heartfelt gratitude to the ITU, the Secretariat, as well as to all who have helped with the logistical planning and convening of this Summit.
Finally, I extend to the Prime Minister, her Government and the people of this great nation of the Kingdom of Thailand and the city of Bangkok for being an excellent host and for your generous hospitality that has been spontaneously accorded to my delegation since our arrival.
I thank you all
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Issued by : Ministry of Information and Communication, Nuku'alofa, Tonga.