Malaysia supports Indonesia’s proposed ASEAN identity narrative

Malaysian Deputy General Secretary of the Tourism, Art, and Culture Ministry Saraya binti Arbi (Antara)

Malaysian Deputy General Secretary of the Tourism, Art, and Culture Ministry Saraya binti Arbi (Antara)

Yogyakarta: Malaysia has vowed to back Indonesia’s idea regarding the ASEAN identity narrative

“What Indonesia initiated about the ASEAN as a single identity is a good thing, and we support it,” Malaysian Deputy General Secretary of Tourism, Art, and Culture Ministry Saraya Binti Arbi said on the sidelines of the 15th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting for Culture and Arts (SOMCA) and Related Meetings in Yogyakarta.

Indonesia had initiated the concept of ASEAN identity to strengthen unity and awareness regarding ASEAN among communities in the region.

The Malaysian government had begun some events relating to the ASEAN SOMCA’s agenda, including the underwater cultural heritage project to be organized in 2020 and historical storytelling symposium this year that involves public participation, to highlight ASEAN’s one vision, one identity, and one community motto, she added, Indonesian news agency ANTARA reported.

“This is especially important for our young generation to understand the aspirations and achievements of the ASEAN,” she said, quoted by the agency.

Indonesia’s proposed draft of the ASEAN identity is the outcome of discussions from several civil society organizations that had consulted with 10 member nations for two months.

If all member countries concur on the ASEAN identity narrative, it will help the process of promoting the ASEAN, which has, until now, only been understood by limited circles, including the government, students, media, and academics.

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 SOMCA.

According to ANTARA, the SOMCA activity is an effort to deepen global cooperation in the field of culture.

Indonesia proposed the narrative of ASEAN identity on Monday.

Foreign Ministry’s Director of ASEAN Social and Cultural Cooperation Riaz Saehu said 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 told ANTARA.

According to Indonesia, the ASEAN identity is a reminder that ASEAN is not only an organization that is built based on political interests but also that there are also cultural values in Southeast Asia that must be incorporated into the ASEAN identity.

“We as a society must unite first. That is the spirit that we really want to develop during this meeting,” Saehu said.

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