[OPINION] ICAPP and the ‘Asian Guru’: the One and Only JDV

By Senator Mushahid Hussain

Chairman, Senate Committee on Defense, Pakistan

Co-Chairman, Standing Committee, International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP)


It is interesting that this time around, the birthday of one of Asia’s most   eminent statesmen, His Excellency Jose de Venecia, Jr., coincides with the 23rd anniversary of his founding of the ICAPP, International Conference of Asian Political Parties.  These two happy anniversaries are a testament to the resilience and vital role of ideas in the shaping of events and the moving of Asian history.

A great son of the Philippines and, actually, a greater son of Asia, Jose de Venecia, popularly known as JDV, is a unique one of a kind leader, innovative lawmaker, businessman, statesman, diplomat, journalist, family man, and a man of vision who founded what is today, almost a quarter century after its founding, the leading organization of political parties of Asia, ICAPP.

It was at the turn of the century, the beginning of the 21st century which is now being seen as the Asian Century, that JDV, then not holding any office in government or parliament, conceived and launched the ICAPP.  By then, he already had a track record of a person who galvanized people and places with ideas, issues, and initiatives, as a leader with the tenacity to pursue goals that would otherwise be thought an ‘impossible dream.’

This self-made statesman started writing when he was in his teens giving expression to his ideas about the world shaping around him, and in his late 20s, he was sitting on the high table in what was then the center of strategic gravity in Asia, Saigon, the capital of then South Vietnam, where one of the biggest conflicts of the post-World War II was emerging.  Representing his beloved country, the Philippines, JDV as a diplomat made his mark among the senior diplomats and generals with whom he rubbed shoulders.  And from then on, there was no turning back for this young lad from Pangasinan.

He was a participant in several historic moments and movements, from conceiving the Filipino workers’ remittances program in the 1960s which was of immense help to the economy of the Philippines, to seizing the first opportunity for Filipino workers in the Middle East oil boom of the 1970s, JDV was always found at the frontlines of happening events not just in the Philippines but also in Asia as a whole.

JDV’s life is an embodiment of the Asian spirit of resilience, overcoming setbacks, facing challenges head on, and bouncing back like a bang. JDV was financially shattered in the aftermath of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, with his contracts and business in the Middle East destroyed, he was at life’s lowest ebb, and then, he met the love of his life, Gina, who was been his sheet anchor since. Gina’s steady hand helped in JDV’s phoenix-like revival and resurgence, both in business and politics: ICAPP followed, then the longest serving Speaker in Philippines history, plus a presidential bid where JDV landed second in the field of 10 candidates.

It is thus no extent that this man of unique intellect and remarkable brilliance took the initiative to launch ICAPP almost a quarter of century back in Manila, inviting Asian leaders to join him at the creation of what has become one of the most influential and important political organizations in Asia.

What is unique in the ICAPP is it is an inclusive body which includes opposition and government, Left and Right, secular and religious, radical and conservative, Marxist and Muslim, in fact it is like a rainbow representing the finest of Asia’s unity in diversity.

My own connection with JDV also began through ICAPP and it is now an almost a quarter of century old bond, reinforced by our common commitment to Asian values and a common worldview, where we see Asian resurgence inextricably intertwined with peace, harmony, cooperation, connectivity, and camaraderie.

ICAPP is also a blessed body, bringing good luck for many of its key members and leaders as a role in ICAPP is often a fortuitous stepping stone for the future.  The Chairman of ICAPP His Excellency Chung Eui-yong came out of semi-retirement to become the Foreign Minister and National Security czar of South Korea.  Dr. Nalinee Taveesin, after a long spell in the wilderness under the military regime of Thailand, has become a member of the cabinet and a key adviser of the Prime Minister on trade and investment after the recent election in the country.  The wheel of fortune has also turned for the better for our friends in Cambodia, Her Excellency Madame Khuon Sudary, has now become the first woman Speaker of Cambodia, and the young and dynamic parliamentarian Sous Yara, who is a worthy successor to the late Dr. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia, serving his country with distinction and dedication, and he has now become an ‘Asian rising star,’ an indispensable political trouble-shooter for Cambodia.

In Sri Lanka, ICAPP leader Daya Gamage also became a cabinet minister while ICAPP has produced two prime ministers in Nepal, Madhav Kumar Nepal and K.P. Sharma Oli.

So ICAPP is not just a blessed organization but also a blessing for its leaders and members’ success! Today, ICAPP represents the hopes and aspirations of Asia and it is without any iota of doubt, the institutional and political voice of the Asia Century.

As we celebrate the ICAPP success story, let us not forget its amazing Founding Father JDV, who planted this seed 25 years ago that is blossomed into a huge tree with strong branches and deep roots, blossoming into an all-inclusive Asian family that is marching forward to build a better tomorrow for the world’s largest continent, a brighter, peaceful, prosperous future, with no overlords and no underdogs!

Thank you, JDV, for all you have done, above all, being a great friend and a doer who has delivered! Wishing you happy birthday and may you live a long life in good health and may the ICAPP continue to flourish as a democratic and inclusive organization, with its truly unique character!

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.


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