Thailand is taking a major move to promote ASEAN spirit among youth in the region by using information and communication technology (ICT) as a mechanism. It is playing host to the seminar on “Usage of ICT to Promote ASEAN Spirit” from 17 to 19 March 2009 in Bangkok.
Organized by the Government Public Relations Department (PRD), the seminar takes place at the Grand Mercure Fortune Bangkok Hotel, Fortune Town Building, on Ratchadaphisek Road. It is attended by 40 participants from 10 ASEAN countries, namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Out of the 40 participants, there are four from each country, consisting of two university students, one policy maker, and one individual from the ICT private sector. Also taking part in this event is a representative from the ASEAN Secretariat, which is located in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The objective is to develop ASEAN spirit among the youth of ASEAN. Although ASEAN was born over 40 years ago, national interests still receive higher consideration than regional interests. Besides, many people in this region have largely ignored ASEAN integration, as they lack “ASEAN spirit.” Nonetheless, it is clear that each member and the whole region will benefit from ASEAN integration. So ASEAN members should no longer stick to one another loosely, but should work more closely to make people feel that they are part of this regional integration, despite their differences and diversity.
In his welcome speech at the opening ceremony of the seminar on March 18, the PRD Director-General, Mr. Phachern Khamphoe, said that ASEAN spirit was a major regional concern and should be implanted basically among the youth, who, as a new generation, might serve as a major force toward national and regional cooperative development. He pointed out that in order to boost ASEAN spirit among the youth, ICT was the best tool that could be employed, because it is a fast and far-reaching medium. The use of this modern technology would enable ASEAN to expand its cooperation beyond the ASEAN region and to fulfill a dream to unite countries in the region in the common pursuit of a peaceful, harmonious, and prosperous community of Southeast Asian nations.
The promotion of ICT is also included in the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint (2009-2015), which was adopted by ASEAN leaders at the 14th ASEAN Summit, held in Thailand on 28 February-1 March 2009. In the blueprint, ASEAN will implement capacity-building programs to increase ICT literacy in this region, especially among women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. It will also promote the positive use of ICT in particular the Internet, encourage the introduction of ICT at all levels of education, initiate the early use of ICT at primary schools, enhance the use of ICT to promote e-learning, and develop a workforce and manpower with a high level of ICT proficiency.
Apart from generating ASEAN spirit, the “Usage of ICT to Promote ASEAN Spirit” seminar also focuses on promoting awareness and understanding of ASEAN among the youth. The participants will brainstorm, using inputs received from the seminar audience, and come up with appropriate techniques and strategies regarding the use of ICT to promote ASEAN spirit. Topics of discussion include a “summary of proposed strategies and tactics,” “the synthesis of plans to employ ICT to promote ASEAN spirit and generate awareness and understanding about ASEAN,” and a “detailed plan for employing ICT to boost ASEAN spirit.”
On March 19, the participants will visit the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC) and Thailand Science Park.
The Executive Director of the PRD Foreign Office, Mrs. Ladavan Bua-aim, hoped that the seminar would be a good start in incubating the ideas to develop appropriate techniques and strategies in using ICT to promote ASEAN spirit, and that at the end the participants would have a draft plan to submit to relevant agencies for further implementation.