KUALA LUMPUR, 2 March 2012 - Malaysia hosted the Eleventh Conference of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (11th AMRI) and the Second Conference of ASEAN Plus Three Ministers Responsible for Information (2nd AMRI+3) in Kuala Lumpur, on 1st March 2012. The conferences were preceded by the Senior Officials Meeting for the 11th AMRI on 28th February 2012 and the ASEAN Plus Three Senior Officials Meeting for the 2nd AMRI+3 on 29th February 2012. The Conference was officiated by the Honourable Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin bin Haji Mohd Yassin, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia at the Royale Chulan Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
In his Opening Address, the Honourable Deputy Prime Minister emphasized the need to lay out a multi-platform framework, engaging both the main stream and the social media to facilitate the free flow of information to enlighten the ASEAN people. He urged this be given utmost priority so that the people of the ASEAN region are not left in the dark as to this important development and are empowered with the right kind of information. The Malaysian National Anthem ‘Negaraku’ and ASEAN Anthem ‘The ASEAN Way’ were played at the opening ceremony. The Conference was chaired by His Excellency (HE) Dr. Rais Yatim, Minister of Information, Communications and Culture, Malaysia. The list of Ministers from all ASEAN Member States as well as Plus Three Countries is presented in http://www.asean.org/26810.htm.
The Chairman in his opening statement highlighted that ASEAN should leverage on the popularity of social media that would keep it current and relevant as a disseminator of information. He expressed his view that the Information Ministers should re-look their engagement through new media and the social network, especially with the younger generation, otherwise they may not be able to play an effective role in promoting ASEAN awareness or building the ASEAN Community. At the Conference, the Ministers agreed to adopt the theme “Media: Connecting Peoples and Bridging Cultures Towards One ASEAN Community”. The Ministers recognized that the theme was highly relevant as both the new and traditional media would continue to play a significant role in the dissemination of information to the peoples of ASEAN, subsequently connecting them beyond their borders and bridging the cultural gap.
The ASEAN Ministers noted the progress in the implementation of digital broadcasting in ASEAN Member States towards Analogue Switch-Off from 2015 to 2020. The Ministers also endorsed the ‘Guidelines for ASEAN Digital Switch-Over’ which will serve as a shared blueprint to aid all Member States in their transition towards digital broadcasting. This guideline is based on the best practices of the various ASEAN Member States and referencing the “Guidelines for the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting” developed by the ITU. In addition, the Ministers supported the ADB’s initiatives to embark on the joint production of a television series entitled, ‘Colours of ASEAN’ in High Definition (HD) to be completed by December 2013. The Ministers noted that ADB will seek funding from the ASEAN-COCI to support this project.
In the area of technical standards, the Ministers noted that ADB recognizes that Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial Second Generation (DVB-T2) is a more advanced technology compared to DVB-T and acknowledges the benefits of migrating directly to DVB-T2. The Ministers also noted that the ADB will be developing common specifications for DVB-T2 receivers to enjoy economies of scale. The Ministers also took note of Japan’s input on the constantly evolving digital technology and that adoption of the standard may vary under different socio-economic situations.
The Ministers recognised the emergence of new and social media as an important tool for communications and interaction in ASEAN today. The Ministers agreed that efforts should be made to leverage on social media to promote ASEAN awareness towards achieving an ASEAN Community by 2015. To this end, the Ministers called for active discussion among ASEAN Member States to identify appropriate programmes and activities that would utilise social media positively to inculcate cultural values, understanding and solidarity among the peoples of ASEAN. To reflect current realities of social media, the Ministers considered the proposal to consolidate the ASEAN Culture and Information Portal and the ASEAN Media Portal, incorporating new media elements. The Ministers concurred that both portals could be integrated and requested the ASEAN Secretariat to study and make recommendations on improvements to be made.
In addition, the Ministers considered the proposal to review the current format of the successful ASEAN Quiz programme. After a decade of implementation, the Ministers recognised that it is timely to have a more structured and standardised format both at national and regional levels as well as, a repository of quiz questions based on a complementary curriculum developed by the Education Sector. By including an online element, the proposal will provide easier access to ASEAN resources, with a view to enhancing knowledge and increasing awareness of ASEAN among the younger generation. The Ministers noted with satisfaction the progress in the implementation of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint, in particular the ongoing projects to increase ASEAN awareness such as the television and radio news exchanges (ASEAN TV News and ASEAN-In-Action) and the implementation of the ASEAN Quiz.
Appreciating the need to implement a comprehensive communications plan to meet the vision of One ASEAN Community by 2015, the Ministers directed a technical working group to study the immediate communications need and recommend an effective communications plan, using media channels that are available in Member States. It is envisioned that this plan will promote a clearer understanding on what One ASEAN Community means for the entire region and its peoples.
ASEAN Plus Three Ministers endorsed the Work Plan on Enhancing ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Through Information and Media 2012 – 2017, which listed out programmes ASEAN and the Plus Three countries could collaborate on. ASEAN Member States have agreed to take the lead in coordinating 17 concrete activities listed in the Work Plan. ASEAN Ministers appreciated the support provided by the Plus Three Countries towards the implementation of these projects. The Ministers agreed to convene the 12th Conference of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (12th AMRI) and its related meetings with Dialogue Partners in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in 2014. The Ministers expressed their sincere appreciation to the Government and people of Malaysia for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements made for the 11th AMRI Conference. The Conference was held in the traditional spirit of ASEAN solidarity and cordiality.