- By Hnin Myat Thu (Culture)
The Association of South East Asia Nation (ASEAN) is trying to promote mutual cooperation in the region with the spirit of equality and partnership that focus on the peace, progress and prosperity. Meanwhile one of the main bodies of the Association is trying to promote the cooperation to build an ASEAN identity which reinforces the mutual understanding between ASEAN People.
This body in ASEAN cooperation is the “ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (ASEAN – COCI)” which was established on 4th October 1978 and the first ASEAN-COCI meeting was held on 4th -6th October, 1978 in Manila. The ASEAN culture fund (ACF) was established on 2nd December, 1978. In 1985 COCI was operated through four working groups, Literary and ASEAN Studies, Visual and Performing Arts, Radio/TV and Films/Video Print and Interpersonal Media.
In 1999 the operation mode for ASEAN-COCI was changed to operate through two subcommittees:
• ASEAN Sub-Committee on Culture
• ASEAN Sub-Committee on Information
The sub-committees plan, implement and monitor the projects which are approved and funded by the ASEAN-COCI as well as “the ASEAN culture fund”. At the same time, the ASEAN National COCIs in the ASEAN Member States oversee the coordination and implementation of ASEAN-COCI projects and activities. The ASEAN National COCIs comprise representatives from the ministries of Culture, Information, National Radio and Television Networks, Heritage Boards, Museums, Archives and Libraries of ASEAN member states.
ASEAN Vision 2020 also provides COCI with an objective of ASEAN, “A community conscious of its ties of history, aware of its cultural heritage and bound by a common regional identity”.
Aims and Objectives
The following are aims and objectives of ASEAN-COCI:
• to promote effective cooperation in the fields of culture and information for the purpose of enhancing mutual understanding and solidarity among the people of ASEAN as well as in furthering regional development.
• to achieve excellence in all aspects of cooperation in the ASEAN Community, further regional development and effectively project ASEAN within and outside the region.
Moreover, Bali Concord II (2003) reinforces ASEAN-COCI’s objective by stating that “Community shall nurture talent and promote interaction among ASEAN scholars, writers, artists and media practitioners to help preserve and promote ASEAN’s diverse cultural heritage, while fostering regional identity as well as cultivating people’s awareness of ASEAN”
ASEAN Sub Committee on Culture
Various activities in the area of culture include the protection, conservation and preservation of cultural heritage, cultural promotion and the production of cultural, Arts Exhibition as well as workshop and seminars were implemented. Moreover, ASEAN cultural officials have been working on issues such as human resource development in the culture sector and small and medium-sized cultural industries.
ASEAN Sub Committee on Information
Various projects and activities, ranging from an ASEAN Youth Camp to news exchanges among ASEAN media, are conducted each year. There are also workshops and other activities to nurture talent and promote interaction among ASEAN scholars, writers, artists and media practitioners as well as film festival and ASEAN Quiz, an activity that has been doing to educate the people about ASEAN’s diverse cultures.
In Myanmar, the focal Ministry of ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (COCI) and Sub Committee of Culture (SCC) is Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, while Sub Committee of Information (SCI) is responsible by Ministry of Information.
ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (ASEAN-COCI), Myanmar
The activities under the Culture and information sector in Myanmar involves implementing communications projects aimed at raising ASEAN awareness and to generate a positive perception of ASEAN.
Moreover, culture and information in Myanmar covers the arts, visual, performing, literary, musical and other art forms, whether traditional, contemporary, or modern, cultural heritage (both tangible and intangible), information and the mass media. The projects and activities involve not only government officials, but also creative artists, writers, journalists and members of the academe.
The ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (ASEAN – COCI) Myanmar is the body principally responsible for the formulation, implementation and review of projects in the Cultural and Information related fields subject to the approval of the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives.
ASEAN COCI, Myanmar tries to get a stronger regional identity which is in line with the ASCC Blue print 2025 “A dynamic and harmonious community that is aware and proud of its identity, culture, and heritage with the strengthened ability to innovate and proactively contribute to the global community”.
ASEAN Leaders accordingly tasked all three ASEAN Community Councils to communicate their efforts to relevant sectors, people and stakeholders through traditional, mainstream and new media which will contribute to create a sense of belonging, consolidating unity and diversity as well as deepening mutual understanding of cultures, histories, religions and civilizations.
ASEAN-COCI of Myanmar and its two sub-committees had played a key role in raising awareness of ASEAN over the years. The goal is to connect ASEAN people beyond the borders, link cultural gaps and articulate the benefits of regional integration.
The annual meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (COCI) is held once a year as well as Sub Committee on Culture (SCC) and Sub Committee on Information (SCI). Myanmar is grateful and honored to accept the chairman ship of 53rd Meeting of ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (COCI) in 2018, so that we have to witness tremendous progress in Culture and Information sector for our beloved country, Myanmar. With regards to this trust, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar will try hard the best to build the future cooperation for the betterment of our ASEAN countries by welcoming 53rd Meeting of ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (COCI), in the year 2018.