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The rise of the social media dominated discussions in the Asean plus 3 Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The rise of the social media dominated discussions in the Asean plus 3 Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) conference held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Information ministers from South-east Asia, together with dialogue partners from China, Japan and South Korea, acknowledged that social media was the fastest growing medium of communication in the region today.

Malaysia Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim said they were at a crossroads in their positions and as purveyors of official information to the people in the traditional sense. Acknowledging that the young populace was fast adapting to the new media, he added that the Asean countries had to reinvent themselves and ride the wave of the popularity of social network. 

“However, we must be mindful that while the new media or social media opens up an avenue for governments to interact with citizens, governments must also work together and collaborate to prevent the spread of wrong information via social media networks, he said. He also announced the formation of two portals, Asean Culture and Information Portal and Asean Media Portal.

Earlier, Malaysia Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said there was a need to promote greater understanding of the political systems, cultures and history of member states to realise the vision of an Asean community. At the opening of the conference, Muhyiddin advised member states to work harder to create an Asean identity that represented their collective norms, values and beliefs.

The countries, he said, must intensify their efforts to create a sense of belonging, consolidate unity in diversity and enhance mutual understanding among themselves. Muhyiddin said Asean stressed the importance of cultural diversity, as espoused at the 19th Asean Summit in Bali last year.

The next AMRI conference will be held in Myanmar [ Burma ] in 2014.