27 May 2021
ASEAN High Level Cultural Forum discusses way forward in fostering greater understanding, tolerance and a sense of regional agendas among the peoples of ASEAN

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of Brunei Darussalam as the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) 2021 Chair, in collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat, and supported by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund convened the ASEAN High-Level Cultural Forum on Promoting an Adaptive ASEAN Community of Greater Understanding, Tolerance and a Sense of Regional Agendas Among the Peoples of ASEAN, today via video conference.

Yang Berhormat Major General (rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports as the Chair of ASCC Council; His Excellency Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN and His Excellency Chiba Akira, Ambassador of Japan to ASEAN opened the Forum with their remarks.

Yang Berhormat Dato shared that the Forum is part of the follow-up to Titah of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam delivered at the 32nd ASEAN Summit in 2018, highlighting the importance of fostering greater understanding, tolerance and a sense of regional agendas among the peoples of ASEAN; and showcasing the benefits of living harmoniously by uplifting education, sports, and greater information accessibility aspects.

Yang Berhormat Dato also underlined that “the call for greater understanding and tolerance continues to contribute to the building of a strong foundation of shared responsibility and solidarity, a caring and sharing community”. He further added that the initiative is also in-line with the context of the ASEAN2021 Theme of “’We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper” under Brunei Darussalam’s ASEAN2021 Chairmanship, whereby ASEAN aims to collectively pursue shared interests, confront challenges, while re-emphasising people-centred, people-oriented as the integral part of ASEAN’s work; with preparedness being the essential approach in nurturing a more sustainable and resilient community of 2025.

Yang Berhormat Dato further underlined five focus that need to be take into account in developing the Regional Policy Framework that are: to be strategic with actionable policy initiatives; to align ASEAN work within the ASEAN Working Group on the Declaration on Culture of Prevention for a Peaceful, Inclusive, Resilient, Healthy and Harmonious Society and to be mindful with unprecedented challenges as well as making use of digital transformation; to take advantage of outcomes of Mid-Term Review of ASEAN Community Blueprints; identify innovative ways and understanding the underlying root causes and its consequences; and encourage our people to play a more active role towards a peaceful and resilient well-being of ASEAN.

The High Level Cultural Forum brought together representatives from ASCC’s 15 Sectoral Bodies , as well as external entities, non-profit organizations, research institutes/universities, civil society organisations and experts, amongst others, and was moderated by Yang Mulia Hajah Nor Ashikin binti Haji Johari, Permanent Secretary (Community and Culture), Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and SOCA Chair, and Mr. Jonathan Tan, Head of Culture and Information Division, ASEAN Secretariat.

The Forum is divided into Panel Discussion and Open Session, bringing in distinguished panelists from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, the Philippines and Japan. The sessions allowed presentation of ideas and experiences on how to contribute towards developing and inculcating a sustainable culture of peace, tolerance and greater understanding towards regional solidarity, particularly on people-to-people exchanges. Lessons that can be learnt from other stakeholders on effective policies and activities were also discussed.

The conclusion of this Forum is the development of the Regional Policy Framework on Fostering Greater Understanding, Tolerance and a Sense of Regional Agendas Among the Peoples of ASEAN, as one of the outcome documents of the 38th ASEAN Summit. The Regional Policy Framework will serve as an overarching document to lend greater coherence and narrative in guiding ASCC’s efforts to promote greater understanding, tolerance and to imbue a sense of regional agendas among the peoples of ASEAN. The Framework will map the vision and guiding principles comprising a set of value statements and principles, that articulate the strategic outcomes from a cross-cutting, cross-sectoral perspectives.