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Media role vital for Asean progress
Publication Date : 12-09-2013
More dialogue is needed between Asean policymakers and journalists who report on regional issues, said a senior official from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) yesterday.
"We realise that the media's role is vitally important towards realising the Asean Community by 2015," PMO Permanent Secretary Hj Mahrub Hj Murni told over 70 Southeast Asian journalists gathered for an editors' roundtable at the Radisson Hotel.
Officials from the 10-member bloc have said the information sector must play a greater role in Asean community building by disseminating information on Asean and its goals for the 600 million people who live in the region.
"Media acts as a driver to reach the public with the work of their governments, why the Asean community secures their interests, and how they can prepare for deepening regional cooperation," said Hj Mahrub.
"Members of the press can stimulate stakeholder buy-in...The press can also convey public opinion on Asean, allowing the government to react and better serve the public."
As chair of Asean this year, Brunei is committed to forging the Asean Economic Community (AEC) by the deadline of December 2015, the permanent secretary stressed.
There are many challenges in forging the AEC, including implementing over 260 measures to transform the region into a stable and competitive one.
"It is incumbent on journalists who cover business and Asean to understand what some of these measures are and translate them so that the public has a sense of what is happening," said Hj Mahrub.
He said the government has initiated some work on the post-2015 agenda and invited all stakeholders to give input to formulate the future direction of Asean.
Going forward, Asean will focus more on engagement with dialogue partners and play a larger role in shaping the regional landscape, he added.
"This requires more by-in from the public," said Hj Mahrub, who stressed that citizens need to understand that regional prosperity will work to their advantage.
"Regional interests should become embedded in the domestic agenda."
Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi, permanent secretary at Brunei's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, echoed these sentiments, saying that "Asean must move together and engage all the stakeholders. A good communication strategy is needed".
International and local analysts joined 70 journalists at the 2nd Eria Editors' Roundtable organised by the Economic Research Institute for Asean and East Asia (Eria) and the Prime Minister's Office.
The roundtable is aimed at increasing understanding among the media of key issues affecting the region. Among the issues discussed were Asean Connectivity, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Asean Economic Community.