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ERIA Boosts Lao Medias Capacity on ASEAN Reporting

15 February 2024
WorkshopLao PDRMedia

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Vientiane, 16 February 2024: ERIA organised a two-day workshop to promote the capacity of Lao journalists, as well as that of the traditional and digital media community in reporting and analysing the ASEAN agenda under the Lao chairmanship.

The workshop was held in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, and the Embassy of Australia to raise awareness among the Lao media community about the challenges the country and ASEAN will be facing. The interactive workshop aimed to prepare the Lao media to tackle the key issues and substance during the country’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2024.

The workshop also received briefings from senior officials heading the three pillars of the ASEAN Community—political/security, economic, and socio/culture.

Several senior Laotian officials including Phosy Keomanivong, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Somsavath Phongsa, Director General, Mass Media Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, and Bounthala Panyavichith, Director General, Press Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, attended the workshop.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Minister Keomanivong noted that the workshop was a significant event for the Lao mass media as it would provide correct information that is quick and accessible for readers, listeners, and viewers in Lao PDR and other countries.

At the workshop, veteran Lao Ambassador Yong Chanthalangsy, Vice President of the Lao Diplomatic Club, provided both the historical and political context of ASEAN’s consultation and decision-making process since its establishment in 1967.

He said that Lao PDR is serving as the bloc’s chair for the third time and is ready to tackle all the challenges that will come. ‘We are more ready than before as the ASEAN chair,’ he said, adding that Vientiane will do all it can to promote ASEAN centrality and strengthen external relations with all dialogue partners.

Tyagita Silka Hapsari, Communications Supervisor, ERIA, reiterated the importance of having a media strategy to ensure wider dissemination of information and views.

Regarding the ASEAN agenda, Sengpraathid Snookphon, Deputy Director General, ASEAN Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, outlined the priorities under the Lao chair. Under the theme ‘ASEAN: Enhanced Connectivity and Resilience,’ the Lao chair had identified three major thrusts that would increase the bloc’s relevance and solidarity.

First, he pointed out, would be integrating and connecting economies that would promote trade and investment. The second thrust would be forging an inclusive and sustainable future and the third would focus on the bloc’s transformation for a digital future.

The two-day workshop was very extensive as it covered several aspects of media strategies and methods to get the messages of the Lao chair across to both domestic and international audiences.

Invited ASEAN journalists and Australian media strategists also shared their experiences in reporting and writing about ASEAN. They included Chavarong Limpattamapanee, Chairman of the National Press Council of Thailand and Director of Information Center, Thairath Daily, Tan Hui Yee, Indochina Bureau Chief, the Straits Times, Helene Banks, Digital Communications Director, Department of the Australian Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Fiona Merrington, First Secretary of the Australian Embassy in Laos

For the economic pillar, Saysana Sayakone, Director General of the Department of Trade, Negotiation and Economic Cooperation, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, spoke of the 14 priority economic deliverables (PEDs) under the Lao chair. Vientiane has spearheaded 7 initiatives from the 14 PEDs.

Khamphou Phiasackha, Deputy Director General of the Planning and International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, added that the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Pillar would focus on four themes –  culture and arts, promoting environmental cooperation, women and children, and health.

Wrapping up the workshop, Kavi Chongkittavorn, ERIA Senior Communications Adivsor, stressed the importance of the Lao mass media in creating their narratives about the ASEAN chair and its efforts to promote the bloc’s integration, solidarity, centrality and relevance in the post-pandemic world. ‘The media has to do extensive reporting and provide sufficient information and views to enable the audience to have a deeper understanding of the Lao chair and ASEAN affairs,’ he stressed.

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