Building the SEAPA members’ capacities to respond to the implementation of the AEC [ASEAN Economic Community] should be the priority of the organization, said new SEAPA President Eko Maryadi from Indonesia.
“SEAPA, as a network, should be ready to meet the challenges arising from a changing ASEAN,” said Eko, also known as “Item”, who represents the Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI Indonesia), which was selected by the incoming SEAPA Board of Trustees for 2015-2018 to chair the network.
ASEAN is due to implement in 2015 the economic ‘pillar’ of the regional community in Southeast Asia, toward a more open, integrated regional economy for its 10 members.
Economic integration will give rise to new issues in ASEAN countries that will require critical journalistic coverage from the region as a whole.
Political mixed bag
But in a way, it is a region of “change but no change”, said Eko referring to how issues of regional integration are coming to the forefront but without any resolution.
Political exercises, for instance, remains a mixed bag of advances and retreats this year after the Indonesian elections and the Thailand military coup saw the biggest changes in the political landscape of ASEAN this year.
“It gives us hope for some countries, and deep apprehension in others,” Eko added. “But in other countries, the political landscape remains unchanged, elections or no elections.”
“We are deeply concerned about our colleagues in Thailand, particularly”, he said referring to the 22 May which installed a military junta for the country.
“Media freedom drank dramatically in Thailand,” Eko described the situation as he expressed support for the Thai Journalist Association’s efforts to lift military restrictions for the media.
“The work of SEAPA for media freedom and to end impunity remains the same,” Eko concluded, but quickly adding that “we must work with the rest of the ASEAN peoples to realize this vision.”
SEAPA concluded its 2014 General Assembly yesterday highlighted by the acceptance of 5 new members and the election of the new Board.
Eko thanked “the previous SEAPA Board of Trustees — especially Wiratmo Probo, Melinda de Jesus, and also Chavarong Limpattamapanee and Kavi Chongkittavorn — for their hard work in laying down a strong foundation that enabled SEAPA to be moving forward to achieve its goals.”