November 3, 2023
VIENTAINE – Jakarta (Vientiane Times) — This year, discussions at the Asean Media Forum centred on two main topics, namely the Asean-Myanmar landscape in 2025 and Timor-Leste’s path to Asean membership. Laos’ chairmanship of Asean next year was also a prominent issue of discussion.
Key Asean participants, regional media leaders and other stakeholders gather for a photo at the Asean Media Forum.
The 7th Asean Media Forum kicked off on October 31 at the Asean Secretariat Headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, where regional media leaders are meeting with key government Asean policy makers, officials and academic speakers to discuss Asean’s goals, achievements and challenges.
The forum, organised by the Asean Secretariat with support from the German Federal Government through the Deutsche Gessellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), was attended by more than 40 Asean media leaders.
The Secretary General of Asean, Mr Kao Kim Hourn, said in his speech that the Asean Media Forum Flagship event was a platform for Asean to convey messages on regional goals, achievements and challenges to media leaders as well as discuss global and regional issues.
“Regional integration needs to be communicated effectively and accurately to all our stakeholders, which is why it is important to work and engage with the media, enhancing awareness to promote understanding and correct misperceptions on our agenda among our people,” Mr Kao Kim Hourn said.
Former Deputy Secretary-General of Asean and President of the Lao Diplomatic Club, Mr Sayakane Sisouvong, said “Every Asean member has their own strengths to contribute to our Asean community. I think it is very important to recognise the contribution of each member state. In this case, when Laos assumes the chair of Asean next year, we will be like other Asean states and do our best to contribute to our community.”
“Of course, while Laos holds the main responsibility as chair of the bloc, at the same time we count on the cooperation of other Asean member states to ensure that we move forward with our core agreements and activities, then we can claim our achievements together.”
Mr Sayakane said he believed that every country wished for peace and security, no one wanted conflict, and that building understanding and trust is of great importance.
Lao Ambassador to Indonesia and permanent representative, Mr Bovonethat Douangchak, gave an interview during the forum, saying “To prepare for the Asean chairmanship next year, here we chair the permanent representative to Asean. It is important because every important Asean leader statement is negotiated from here.”
“Everything we do here in Jakarta, we prepare and support to the Lao government. Now, our committees are preparing documents on the three Asean pillars, with the details to be published early next year. We hold regular meetings with different dialogue partners such as Australia and Canada. The work of the dialogue partners should be completed in July.”
Laos’ theme as the Asean chair next year is ‘Asean: Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience’.
During discussions about Laos’ chairmanship of Asean, the Former Secretary-General of Asean, Mr Tan Sri Ajit Singh, said “Lao practices are like Tai Chi movements, slow but very powerful and healthy. I’m sure that under Laos’ chairmanship, we will enjoy fruitful and surprising outcomes.”
Laos’ Asean chairmanship in 2024 will be the country’s third term of office in this post after previously being the Asean chair in 2004 and 2016.