KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 – Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak has proposed the establishment of a regional news agency or ASEAN News Agency in an effort to strengthen cooperation on many fronts in line with the spirit of the ASEAN Community.
“Through their own network of news agencies, the proposed ASEAN News Agency could deliver a comprehensive range of coverage from around the grouping’s 10 member countries. Most of the grouping’s member states already have their own national news agencies. Some, like the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama), has been in existence for 48 years,” he said.
“The way forward and with the ASEAN Community already a reality, slowly but surely, the ASEAN News Agency that I am proposing here, can play a significant role in strengthening ASEAN cooperation on many fronts,” he said when opening the ASEAN Editors’ Summit, here Tuesday.
In this respect, Salleh wanted the participants of the two-day ASEAN Editors’ Summit to initiate some preliminary discussions on the proposal. He said the ASEAN Secretariat could, upon achieving a consensus among member states at a later stage, decide on which country to host this news agency.
“And of course matters like its modus operandi and financing. It could even, to my mind, be fast-tracked by way of each news agency seconding its senior editors and journalists to the proposed news agency which basically can play the role of a central clearing house for news reports generated by these agencies. Working out the finer details would be a challenge to participating agencies but I believe it is doable,” he said.
Furthermore, Salleh said almost every 1,500 media organisations in ASEAN member countries were too often faced with cross-border issues relating to security and national sovereignty, in which such issues should be reported in a cordial and transparent manner, so that it does not further complicate conflicts, both regional and global.
Hence, he said strong ties among media organisations must be nurtured to maintain regional peace and harmony, and the ASEAN news agency would lead to media practitioners and journalists having greater opportunities to interact and cooperate with each other.
The minister said in line with the aspiration of the ASEAN Community, formally established at the 27th ASEAN Summit on Nov 22 last year, the media in Southeast Asia had a crucial role to play in increasing the awareness of the more than 650 million people to ASEAN’s initiatives.
In the meantime, he also said that the media can reach out to the masses and is influential. He said the greater critical reporting will be vital to ensure that the public is fully informed about the ASEAN Community and the impact it has on the lives of the peoples in ASEAN.
Salleh also urged ASEAN media practitioners to raise awareness among the youth in strengthening the ASEAN Community since they needed to get to know ASEAN better, deepening their understanding and appreciation of the cultures, social traditions and values of ASEAN.
Therefore, the ASEAN Editors’ Summit being participated by 200 participants including editors and senior journalists, is a platform to gather media people from around the region and strengthen ties so as to highlight and disseminate news on the significant changes taking place in the region, he said.
Also present at the ASEAN Editors’ Summit were secretary-general of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia, Datuk Seri Dr Sharifah Zarah Syed Ahmad; secretary-general Community and Corporate Affairs Department of ASEAN Dr AKP Mochtan; chairman of Bernama Datuk Seri Azman Ujang and general manager of Bernama Datuk Zulkefli Salleh.
In additional, there are four discussion sessions with 16 speakers from ASEAN countries, among them are the director of the ASEAN Secretariat (Indonesia) Lee Yoong Yoong and Bernama deputy editor-in-chief of Economic News Service, Mikhail Raj Abdullah.
Also participating in the forum are senior new media editor of Utusan Malaysia Gamal Nasir Mohd Ali; Indonesian Antara News Agency editor-in-chief Aat Surya Safaat and senior fellow Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological University Singapore Oh Ei Sun.