5th ASEAN Ministers of Culture and the Arts 2012

YB Pehin Hazair speaking during the 5th AMCA Meeting in Singapore. Besides him were Haji Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and Datin Hajah Shireen binti Haji Mustafa, Senior Special Duties Officer at the Ministry of Culture, Yourth and Sports and Chair of COCI Brunei
Bandar Seri Begawan - Culture plays a crucial role towards the consolidation of a caring Asean community of mutual cooperation.

This was said by the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS), Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hazair bin Haji Abdullah, during the fifth meeting of the Asean Ministers Responsible for Culture and Arts (AMCA) in Singapore on May 26.

"Culture is also recognised by the world as a source of enrichment, sustainable development, eliminating poverty and empowering communities to actively contribute in cultural development," he said at the meeting, according to a press statement from the ministry.

Sharing culture and heritage of the region, the minister explained, is also important in overcoming the influence of extremism and other challenges.

Touching on the contribution of culture to economic development, the minister said that in Asia, despite the global economic crisis, the media and entertainment industry contribute approximately nine per cent to the annual compounded growth rate of the region.

He said that with this in mind, it is imperative for Asean countries to evaluate and strategise towards ensuring that the cultural sector will continue to contribute to growth in the Asean region.

Asean member states will be able to identify, evaluate, maintain and exploit cultural activities for aesthetic and economic benefits to the Asean citizens.

In support of the Asean Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprint, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Hazair said that it is very important that the awareness of Asean and a sense of community - both of which are backed by the blueprint - are aimed at creating a sense of belonging, strengthening unity through cultural diversity and enhance a deeper understanding of the history, religion and the Asean civilisation.

The minister also stressed that the preservation of Asean culture is important towards maintaining cultural diversity to ensure that the Asean communities will continue to survive in the long run, where Asean has upheld the principle of "Unity in Diversity".

He then went on to share the steps that have been taken by Brunei in making use of cultural knowledge and integrating it with innovation to develop the local creative economy.

To this end, he said that Brunei is preparing for branding and innovative marketing strategies where intellectual property is a key component in the form of national policy making for creative industry.

Touching on cultural values that are now faced with a world that is constantly changing and closely aligned, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Hazair explained how culture does not need to be static but must have the ability to grow with time and technology, rather than against it.

Towards protecting and developing culture and heritage, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Hazair stressed the need to involve the youth so that they not only understand but are also aware of their culture, but more importantly absorb those cultural values through their daily lives and hence pass them on to future generations.

In line with that, he said that the role of educational institutions in spreading these cultural values is of utmost importance.

Furthermore, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Hazair also touched on the involvement of women in the development and growth of the creative economy through culture, saying that women play a significant role in maintaining and ensuring culture, art and traditions are still practised in today's community.

"By appreciating and empowering youth and women through culture and development activities, we will accelerate the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals," he said.

Also part of Brunei's delegation was Awang Haji Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports along with a number of the ministry's officers.

The fifth AMCA meeting was officially opened by Dr Yaakob Ibrahim, the Minister of Information, Communication and Arts for the Republic of Singapore, who also launched the logo for Singapore as Asean's second City of Culture for the year 2012-2013 after the Philippines.

This fifth AMCA meeting saw the ministers welcome the AMCAs achievements; particularly the role of the AMCA in realising the primary fields contained within the Asean Declaration on Unity in Cultural Diversity Towards Strengthening the Asean Community and the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity, both of which are important bases for achieving the Asean Community 2015.

In upholding and supporting the two aforementioned documents, the AMCA ministers agreed to further strengthen Asean cooperation in the field of culture and arts with emphasis and focus on human resource development, preservation and conservation of cultural heritage and development of Asean as well as the development of small and medium-sized cultural enterprises (SMCE).

The AMCA ministers also approved the draft of the Work Plan on Enhancing Asean Plus Three Cooperation in Culture.

As this is the first meeting of the AMCA with China, AMCA ministers have also approved the concept paper of the Asean-China Cooperation on Culture and the Arts.

In a separate event, Brunei's Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports along with other AMCA ministers made an official visit to Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore in his office at the palace.

Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Hazair also had the opportunity to attend the opening ceremony for the fifth Asean Festival of Arts at Singapore's National Museum, where he watched performances from Asean countries, including Brunei.

Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

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