What do you think is the most pressing political challenge facing your generation?
I think one of the most pressing political challenges facing my generation, at least in my region, is the insufficient forethought, vision and resources that are being invested into the future of youths. Public schools often are the least maintained, school curricula outdated and the youths are still not considered stakeholders in a lot of the big decisions countries make for the economy.
Do you feel optimistic about the future of your country?
Yes. I do feel optimistic about the future of Laos. There is a surge of young people rising up to innovate, lead and come up with amazing ideas to help better the community economically and socially and that’s always a good sign and at an unprecedented rate compared to the years before.
What is your perception of government as an institution?
I appreciate the work the governmental institution does in terms of maintaining socio-economic order for the country. It works when helmed by the right people with an inclusive mindset of all the stakeholders that makes a nation what it is, girded by a standard of transparency and accountability.
Which other countries inspire you and why?
Neighbouring countries like Vietnam and Cambodia inspire me with their resiliency to innovate and rebuild despite their history. They’re a gold mine for start-ups and VCs today and to have in cases like Vietnam, where the government champions the cause of start-ups and for young people to innovate, is truly an inspiration.
Who do you admire? Who is your hero?
Jacinda Ardern. Her leadership that was highlighted in recent events showed the magnitude of her ability to lead with strategy and empathy, which I believe is as important for a generation that looks for a leader that exhibits both strength and heart.
What is one thing that you would like to preserve for the next generation?
Empathy. Be it in the core values of our businesses or institutions, I would like to preserve the value of empathy in all that we do. Empathy is what enables businesses to ensure that what we’re doing has an inclusivity aspect to our operations, putting sustainability in the picture and not leaving it out for better returns. In the coming wave of automation, AI and the 4th industrial revolution, empathy is what humanises our future innovations, achievements and milestones; building a world for future generations, not an institution.
Benjamin Soo is the Founder of Modern Lao Homes.