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ASEAN Journalists Strive to Promote Regional Identity

cartoonJAKARTA, APR 27 – Journalists from around Southeast Asia are to set up a regional forum encompassing multi-platform news reporting in the pursuit of building a cohesive ASEAN identity among members of the public.

The forum would unite journalists from across the region to encourage the production of news content from an ASEAN perspective as an alternative to the fragmented unilateral focus from each member nation as it is currently presented.

“The media forum for ASEAN would be a good opportunity for community building. [It would be] neutral in its stance and have no political overtone. It could link journalists who want to write about ASEAN,” said Kavi Chongkittavorn, chairman and founder of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance ( Seapa ), during a discussion in Jakarta.

If the media can develop from a perspective of ASEAN community building, it will give the people in the region a stronger sense of being more in proximity with each other, said Chongkittavorn.

He also called for ASEAN news to be archived and easily accessed by people in the future.  “We are four months into the ASEAN Economic Community, but what have we done? There should be a place where all the ASEAN updates could be put together and easily accessed,” said Chongkittavorn at a discussion organized by The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Post’s editor-in-chief Endy Bayuni proposed the creation of a preparatory committee consisting of representatives from media outlets from all ASEAN member countries.

During his opening remarks at the discussion, which coincided with the celebrations of the news outlet’s 33rd anniversary, Endy highlighted the role that the media plays in building a sense of community, identity and neighborhood.

Nezar Patria, editor-in-chief at The Jakarta Post Digital, led the discussion panel and nominated as the working title of the forum, “Media Forum for ASEAN Community Building”. “The forum would adopt values of inclusivity, independence and be open to all platform,” said Nezar, who is a member of the Indonesian Press Council.

He urged participants to make a concrete commitment and to follow up with constant communications for the realization of the forum.

In order to engage with the audience at large in creating a sense of identifying with the region, he also said news content should not overlook the prospect of soft news.

The proposed coordinators at this early stage include Endy, Thai senior journalist Kavi Chongkittavorn and Do Le Ngoc Bich from Vietnam News.

This project is to be launched in time for ASEAN’s 50th anniversary in 2017 and intended to stand independent of the governments.

AKP Mochtan, the deputy secretary-general of ASEAN for community and corporate affairs, was also present during the discussion and said the ASEAN Secretariat could provide assistance and support.

Mochtan said the association would be involved in the processes that would require paperwork, such as registration, accreditation and assisting in sourcing funds. “There needs to be a more substantial and substantive form that is shared and agreed by all before I can bring it up to the Secretariat General,” Mochtan said.

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