Useful technology and a mission to work towards a digitally ready ASEAN were the highlights of the opening day of the 14th ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) Conference.
By Francis Kan
An ASEAN ministerial grouping aimed at promoting cooperation in information and media met in Singapore in May to discuss the challenges of fostering an inclusive and informed region amid the ongoing digital revolution.
Held biennially, the Conference of ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) is part of the ASEAN Social-Cultural Community (ASCC). Singapore is the AMRI Chair for 2018–2019 as well as the Chair of ASEAN for 2018.
The guest of honour at the event, Singapore’s Finance Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat, noted that AMRI will play a pivotal role in leading ASEAN into the new digital age.
He proposed three goals in building an inclusive and informed Digital ASEAN: To grow the region’s digital economy by enabling businesses to make full use of digital technology; to nurture an inclusive digital society; and to build a trusted digital ecosystem by responding to challenges such as fake news.
In his welcome remarks, Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information, Mr S. Iswaran, said that the conference theme – an "Inclusive and Informed Digital ASEAN" – was timely.
“We must ensure that no one is left behind in this digital revolution that is sweeping across the globe. Digitalisation democratises the economy by empowering small and medium enterprises to access distant markets and shared services. It can enhance the quality of government services rendered to citizens. It allows workers with the right skills to take on better and more fulfilling jobs,” he said.
“If we adopt the right strategies, we believe ASEAN will be well-positioned as a vibrant and successful region in the globalised digital economy and new media sectors,” he added.
A digital showcase
As part of the AMRI conference, delegates were treated to a technology exhibition curated by IMDA to display solutions that could help ASEAN reach its goal of becoming an inclusive and informed digital region.
The exhibits covered the gamut of cyber wellness, cyber bullying, Internet safety, and immersive tech solutions.
One of the highlights of the exhibition was Google’s Word Lens solution, which allows users to see real-time translation of texts in a variety of languages. Visitors were also given a chance to preview content from Discovery Channel’s new virtual reality network, Discovery VR, which delivers highly immersive stories through the use of new production technologies.
A hit with the crowd were the young presenters from CHIJ Katong Primary School, who showcased their “Towards a Cyber Smart Community” programme. The programme – supported by the Media Literacy Council – is an initiative to educate students on cyber wellness, cyber bullying and Internet safety, and engage community stakeholders.
Meanwhile, TOUCH Cyber Wellness, a non-profit agency, exhibited its efforts in advocating cyber wellness and new media literacy, such as their anti-cyberbullying campaign called Power of Zero. IMDA’s Digital Literacy team was also present to promote Safer Internet Day 2018.
The initiatives on show reflected AMRI’s broader mission to nurture a digitally literate ASEAN, combat fake news and ultimately build a strong ASEAN community through information and media.
The 14th Conference of AMRI was jointly organised by the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).