Are Social Media a Key to Promote Peace in ASEAN countries?

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On September 1, Mekong Dialogue Institute (MDI) hosted a regional media conference on “ASEAN Toward Regional Stability Through Social Media”. The conference, also known as ASEANCon, was held at Cambodia-Korea Cooperation Center (CKCC) of Royal University of Phnom Penh. There were approximately 600 participants who were mostly university students, government officials, and journalists.

ASEANCon successfully created a stage for various professionals from Asian countries to share knowledge about the role of social media in the region. Speakers of ASEANCon discussed on how to best take advantage of social media to promote peace and connectivity in ASEAN countries and how people in the region should use social media to do so. From panel discussion1, where the topic was “Peace Building and Connectivity”, there were speakers as in the following: H.E. Neak Chandarith, Head of Department of International Studies from Royal University of Phnom Penh; Ung Radsorin, Deputy Director of International Relations and Development Partners Department from Ministry of Justice; So-Hyun Kim, Reporter for the news site AsiaN and MagazineN; Vo Xuan Vinh, Deputy Director General of Institute for Southeast Asia Studies, VASS.

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From the panel discussion, So-hyun Kim displayed how the news site AsiaN is trying to build peace in Asian countries. First, she mentioned that people in the region need to understand each other and that creating a strong bond, a strong relationship among Asian countries is crucial in order to promote the culture of peace in Asian countries. She also stated that the news site AsiaN is playing a role that support the two things above. She said: “First, AsiaN cover the news about Asian countries in a wide range, giving a better understanding of Asian countries to the public. We get the news sources from the journalist in all part of Asia and cover news about Asia. The best part is that it reports Asian news from the ‘Asia point of view’. This is possible because we directly get the information from the experts in each Asian country. And recently, we started to collect the information in Asian countries by using big data. We are in a beginning step to do this, but we are developing new methods to gain information using big data. Second, AsiaN is putting effort to build peace in Asian countries by developing a strong connection among Asian countries. AsiaN is a news site that can be only operated by cooperation of journalists among Asian countries. And the journalists here all share one common objective: distributing Asian news in the eyes of Asia. And I believe this bond of sympathy, connectivity can ultimately lead to building peace in Asian countries.”

Among other speakers, Neak Chandarith focused on the term ‘peace’. He stated that there are two kinds of peace: ‘positive peace’ and ‘negative peace’. He said that people in the region should put effort on building positive peace which is a peace that goes beyond negative peace, which refers to the ‘absence of violence’. On the other hand, Vo Xuan Vinh stated that we need to develop peace education to enhance peace in the region. He also mentioned that social media can act as an environment for understanding each other well.

Established in 2013, Mekong Dialogue Institute (MDI) is a non-profit organization devoted to promote peace and establish peaceful coexistence of the adherents of different faiths, cultures, ethnicities and races. The organization aims to encourage education, exchange of opinion in a wide perspective through social, academic and cultural programs.

By YeJi Chun

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