Foreign Ministry's Director of ASEAN Social and Cultural Cooperation Riaz Saehu stated that the ASEAN identity is deemed crucial by Indonesia, as the narrative is expected to be used by all member nations to popularize ASEAN among the common people.
"This is since, as we know, ASEAN is an organization that still appears very elitist to the common people, although it has been established for 52 years. The most important thing is how the ASEAN can benefit the community," Saehu informed ANTARA in Yogyakarta on Monday (Sept 9) evening.
The narrative on ASEAN identity proposed by Indonesia is expected to be used on several occasions and serve as a reminder for the people that ASEAN is not only an organization that is built based on political interests but there are also cultural values in Southeast Asia that must be incorporated into the ASEAN identity.
"That we, as a society, must unite first. That is the spirit that we really want to develop during this meeting," Saehu noted.
The narrative on ASEAN identity will not only be discussed at the 15th SOMCA but it is also targeted to be adopted by leaders of member countries in the ASEAN Summit 2020.
The draft of the ASEAN identity proposed by Indonesia is the outcome of discussions from several civil society organizations that had consulted with 10 member nations for two months.
The agreement of all member nations on the narrative of ASEAN identity will assist in the process of raising awareness of the ASEAN that has, until now, only been understood by a limited circle, such as the government, students, media, and academics.
"If we come to some regions in our country, many people still do not understand what the ASEAN is. Although the ASEAN is relevant, it must also offer benefits to the people," Saehu stated.
Three parameters to develop this narrative are raising public awareness on the ASEAN, offering greater benefits of ASEAN to the public, and how people can be proud to be part of the ASEAN community, he stated.
This year's SOMCA will discuss the terms of reference (ToR), foundation of cultural activities, and proposed Joint Statement, including discussing plans for cultural cooperation at a higher level.
Through this meeting, Indonesia has encouraged the creation of a cultural ecosystem that involves several stakeholders, including artists, the government, and the private sector, to support cultural promotion.
The SOMCA activity is an effort to intensify international cooperation in the field of culture in line with the mandate of Law No. 5 of 2017 on the Advancement of Culture to revive and maintain the cultural ecosystem, both domestically and among nations.
Delegations from 10 ASEAN member countries of Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam; and three dialogue partners -- Japan, South Korea, and China -- attended this year's ASEAN SOMCA meeting.
The meeting was preceded by a cultural visit to the Yogyakarta Palace, Taman Sari Water Castle, and Ullen Sentalu Museum on September 9-10, 2019. Related news: Yogyakarta hosts ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting for Culture and Arts
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