The narrative on ASEAN identity was proposed by Indonesia, the chairperson of the 15th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting for Culture and Arts (SOMCA) and Related Meetings, in Yogyakarta on September 9-12, 2019.
"This narrative needs to be raised to increase awareness that the ASEAN is not only a politically constructed organization, but there are also cultural values in Southeast Asia that must be integrated in the ASEAN identity," Director of ASEAN Social and Cultural Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia Riaz Saehu noted on the sidelines of the 15th ASEAN SOMCA in Yogyakarta on Tuesday.
The similarity in values, among others, almost all ASEAN member countries, except Thailand, have been colonized by the West. Moreover, Southeast Asian nations have been influenced by Indian and Chinese civilizations.
"The ASEAN community needs to understand that we actually share the values of tolerance and mutual respect, and although they are quite diverse, we are able to adapt and adopt values arising from anywhere to Southeast Asia," Saehu noted.
Based on these similar values, Indonesia then proposed the narrative on ASEAN identity that is expected to be utilized by all member nations to promote the ASEAN.
After discussion at the 15th SOMCA, the narrative on ASEAN identity is targeted to be adopted by the leaders of member nations in the 2020 ASEAN Summit.
"It is expected that leaders can accept this narrative during the 2020 ASEAN Summit. The form is indeed not a communique or a joint document, but a narrative that can encourage a sense of togetherness and increase public awareness in the region about ASEAN," Saehu remarked.
The draft of the ASEAN identity proposed by Indonesia is the result of discussions from several civil society organizations that had consulted with 10 member countries for two months.
If all member countries agree on the narrative on ASEAN identity, it will help the process of promoting the ASEAN, which has, until now, only been understood by limited circles, including the government, students, media, academics, and universities.
Delegations from 10 ASEAN countries -- Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- as well as the three partner countries of Japan, South Korea, and China attended the 15th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting for Culture and Arts (SOMCA).
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 between countries. Related news: Indonesia suggests narrative of ASEAN identity at SOMCA
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