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Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond Series

Q&A: ‘We Need to Be Understood Better’


ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General AKP Mochtan talks to Johanna Son about the need for media to tell more ‘complete’ stories about ASEAN issues, especially during the year the Community is to be put in place.

Q: Do you think that people understand what ASEAN is all about?

Mochtan: When it comes to the understanding of the people of ASEAN, there is actually understanding – but it is not sufficient, and there are different understandings of what ASEAN is. What we have (found out) from our survey, actually, is that about 80 percent of (respondents in) the survey know about ASEAN, but 76 percent of them do not know actually what really is the meaning of ASEAN.

Q:  Young journalists especially don’t find coverage of ASEAN interesting at all, so how do you could you get them to dig deeper into news about it?

Mochtan: We need to close the gap in the understanding or interpretation from the media about ASEAN and also what is happening, you know, (so that) we are not only looking at what is not being done; we also need to see what has been done or what has been accomplished.

Q: Are you saying that’s fair, or not fair?

Mochtan: It is not a matter of fair or not fair, but making the information more complete and in the context of the journey (toward the Community) itself. Maybe you expect that by Dec. 31, 2015, everything (will come) with a big bang. Actually, that is not also correct. That will be an important milestone, but the journey continues. So there will be achievements.  We can present the data on where we are in terms of the achievements of the action lines in the blueprint.

Q: You’re saying that ASEAN is a bit misunderstood?

A: Correct. We need to be understood better and likewise we have to convey more messages in a simpler way.

Q: With the ASEAN Community coming, are more journalists bugging you, calling you? Are you talking to more of them these days?

A: Certainly. We get perhaps about a hundred requests for interviews – in a year, various requests and then, the Secretary-General is actually open to that. We would facilitate arrangements for interviews, be that at the sideline of a summit or a visit to the secretariat. But we have actually a big number of requests that we have received for interviews and in a sense, the interest on ASEAN is actually increasing from the increasing number of requests we have received.

I think that especially because this year is the launch of the ASEAN Community, it’s important that we share more information and hopefully, we have the media to convey (this) to the people, because we cannot do it alone.

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