Rizal and the ASEAN’s way forward: Malaysian PM Anwar speaks in UP on strategic takeaways for ASEAN 30 years after The Asian Renaissance

| Written by UP Media and Public Relations Office

A true scholar of the Great Malayan, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar quotes Rizal’s “The Indolence of the Filipino” in his special lecture. He cites the relevance of Rizal’s teachings as the ASEAN faces new challenges, and pushes for the building of a new consensus in ASEAN by amplifying commonalities and strengthening cooperation and collaboration across the board to create a truly multilateral, multicultural and diverse ASEAN. Photo by Kevin Christian Roque (UPMPRO).


Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia, called for an ASEAN that is built “on the firm foundations of a humane economy, compassion, justice, inclusiveness and shared prosperity”, in a special lecture he delivered at the University of the Philippines (UP) Theater in its Diliman campus on March 2, 2023, as part of his recent two-day visit to the Philippines.

Addressing an audience consisting of local and national government officials, representatives of the Philippine public higher education sector, members of the diplomatic corps, and UP officials, faculty, students and staff, PM Anwar delivered a lecture, “30 Years After The Asian Renaissance: Strategic Takeaways for ASEAN”. In his talk, he emphasized that “cooperation and collaboration . . . in all the crucial matters that bind us as a solid multilateral, multicultural, and diverse regional grouping must be the way forward for ASEAN.”

The prime minister elaborated on ideas of Asian Renaissance Man and the Philippines’ national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, with references from Rizal’s “The Philippines–A Century Hence” and “On the Indolence of the Filipinos”, stating that Rizal’s words were still relevant and should provide guidance for scholars and leaders. Anwar quoted Rizal: “Justice is the foremost virtue of the civilizing races. It subdues the barbarous nations, while injustice arouses the weakest.”

In his speech, PM Anwar also called on the ASEAN to address human rights violations in junta-led Myanmar. He explained that while “decision-making by consensus continues to be a central tenet of ASEAN . . . [this] does not mean that ASEAN should remain silent over developments in member states that affect the wider region, or particularly egregious violations of the ASEAN Charter by its own members.” He said, “non-interference is not a license for indifference.”

“When I mentioned in Bangkok recently about the need to temporarily carve out Myanmar, on account of the blatant human rights violations, it was said in the larger context of the imperative to stay true to one of the key ideals of ASEAN, which is nothing less than to stand for the cause of justice and the rule of law,” he said.

Read Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar’s speech in full here.  

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim receives the diploma for the Doctor of Laws degree, honoris causa, from UP Regent Mark Go (left) and UP Pres. Angelo Jimenez (right). Photo by Kevin Christian Roque (UPMPRO).

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

PM Anwar’s special lecture was made in conjunction with the rites held by the University of the Philippines to confer the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, to PM Anwar on March 2, 2023.

PM Anwar was cited for: his efforts in “nurturing the life of the mind and fostering intellectual discourse” in Malaysia and in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region; his advocacy of the concept of an Asian Renaissance; his devoted study of the life, works and teachings of Dr. Jose Rizal; and, his unstinting commitment to the pursuit of justice and democratic ideals and the attainment of a more inclusive, pluralistic Malaysia, among others.

The ceremony was facilitated by Hon. Angelo A. Jimenez, UP President and Co-Chair of the UP Board of Regents; and Hon. Mark O. Go, Chair of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education and a member of the UP Board of Regents. Joining them on stage were: Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Zambry bin Abdul Kadir; UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel R. Nemenzo; Hon. Roberto MJ Lara, Secretary of the University and of the Board of Regents (BOR); and members of the UP Board of Regents. 

Homecoming to UP

The ceremony was also a “homecoming” for PM Anwar who had frequently visited UP in his youth and who was a student of the late UP professor and historian, Cesar Adib Majul.

The Prime Minister is an internationally renowned expert on economics, governance and accountability, and on Islam and democracy.  He served as: Minister of Culture, Youth, and Sports in 1983; Minister of Agriculture in 1984; and, Minister of Education in 1986.

PM Anwar served as Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister from 1993 to 1998 and Minister of Finance from 1991 to 1998, during which Malaysia enjoyed unprecedented prosperity and economic growth. His prescriptions saved the Malaysian economy during the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 and earned him accolades, including recognition as the Asian of the Year from Newsweek International.

Since the early 2000’s PM Anwar has held lecturing positions at: St. Anthony’s College in Oxford University; the School of Advanced International Studies in Johns Hopkins University; and, the School of Foreign Service in Georgetown University.

View more photos of the Conferment Ceremony here.

Written by Fred Dabu, UP MPRO and Celeste Llaneta, UP MPRO.

Watch highlights from the speech of Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in the video below. Video by Al Nikko M. Nagutom, UP MPRO.