Saturday, April 02, 2005

Speech given to UN - Kuala Lumpur

While attending a UN Fourm meeting in Malaysia, I was both surprised by the generous hospitality of the Malaysian people and saddened by the all too familiar site of a small percentage of a population left behind economically. Click on the image to the left to see the shanty-town next to our hotel). Don't get me wrong - Malaysian's in general are probably better off than people in many countries. Even the poorest of the poor managed to put on a smiling face to greet us as we walked by the shanty town's behind our 5 star hotel. If you are a traveller, Malaysia is a "must visit" country. It is not just a few people - the entire country seems to be friendly. I think we should let the Malaysians run the rest of the world.

The point of all this was that I was inspired to give a speech to remind people that while life can be good, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure we all prosper fairly. The following is the result of that speech. Oh yes - I learned some Malay too ;-)

Speech given by Duane Nickull (, Senior Standards Strategist, Adobe Systems for the 6th annual UN/CEFACT Forum and UN/ECE Capacity Building workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 17, 2005.
Hello and welcome to the afternoon session of the UN/ECE – UN/CEFACT Capacity Building Workshop 2005 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My name is Duane Nickull, a vice chair of the UN/CEFEFACT Bureau and Senior Standards Strategist for Adobe Systems. If you will indulge me, I would like to address our gracious hosts in their native language.

[Malaysian] Selamat Datang, Tuan-tuan dan puan-paun. Apa Khabar? Saya Barasa amat gembira bersama Tuan-tuan dan Puan-puan sekalian di Kuala Lumpur. Bagi Pihak United Nations, saya ingin mengucapkan ribuan terima kasih, di atas jemputan kita ke Negara Malaysia yang amat cantik sekali. (drew both applause and histerical laughter based on my poor pronunciation)

I want to provide a tremendous thank you to our hosts. Whenever we visit countries, we get a “feel” for the local culture. If I had to sum up Malaysia in two words, I would chose “energetic and enthusiastic”. The positive energy in this country is unparalleled in my experience and only second to the amazing hospitality. The energetic and enthusiastic feeling is also contagious and I invite you all to use this energy to help accomplish your work.

I would like to ask you to expand your definition of “Capacity Building” too. In addition to the UN helping build capacity in your nations, we also need to build our learning capacity to understand how we can continue to be relevant and credible. We need to understand what work items you need form us so I will invite all of you to make this session and open and informal dialog to facilitate information sharing. The UN speaking is only part of this capacity building – what we really are intent on doing is listening as much or more than we talk.

On a personal note, I want to point out that each and every one of you has the capacity to make a difference in this world. You are the talent, the policy makers, decision makers and implementers of standards and technology for many people on the planet. You can and will make a difference. When contemplating the significance of making a difference, I want to bring to your attention the shanty-town less than 200 meters from where we sit. The worlds of luxury and the needy meet. I would like to personally invite you to never lose sight of the fact that we work for the people who live there. We must strive to help those who cannot help themselves and protect their interest in society. This is a large undertaking and a very worthwhile cause.

Teach each other; learn from each other. Share your successes; share your failures; but never stop learning.

The Japanese have a word that is applicable – Kaizen. It means continuous improvement. That is our work and you will make a difference in this world. I will now turn to the agenda items...