Use of digital tech to promote regional culture

James Kon

ASEAN is working on several innovations, including the use of virtual reality, to promote UNESCO ASEAN heritage sites and the ASEAN Cultural Heritage Digital Archive, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin said.

He also stressed on the need to build stronger public-private partnerships to rejuvenate and evolve ASEAN economic models where COVID-19 has shown how fragile the world can be.

The minister, who is the Chair of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Pillar for 2021, made these comments during the G20 Culture Ministers’ Meeting on Friday, where he also underscored the central role of digital culture in protecting
cultural heritage.

Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan, the special guest of the Republic of Italy which holds the G20 Presidency this year, said ASEAN looks forward for G20 to develop capacity-building programmes to future-proof cultural heritage workers and professionals as well as upstreaming measures such as cultural and digital literacy especially among netizens.

Seeing the creative economy as a vital driver towards post-pandemic recovery in which through the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF) for post pandemic growth, the minister said, “The creative cultural economy has been underlined as a critical sector to help in regional recovery.”

Speaking on the need for ASEAN to build a people-oriented ecosystem through digitalisation that guides and enables cultural and creative industries towards socio-economic development, balanced growth, generating employment and promoting trade activities, the minister said G20 will be a crucial partner in developing policy enabling frameworks.

He said there is an urgent need to fine tune the economic model for the culture sector to embrace the digital transformation and prepare for unforeseen disruptions.

Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan said there is a need to ensure that the culture is inclusive to all, so that no one is left behind, adding that the power of culture can bridge differences and promote intercultural understanding; ensure citizens are able to navigate the digital space safely; and serves as a counter against extremism
and intolerance.

The minister also shared ASEAN’s efforts in enhancing cooperation, which are in line with the priority areas outlined at the
G20 meeting.

On the ASEAN Declaration on Cultural Heritage exemplified efforts to address the challenges of cultural loss due to climate change, human and natural disasters, he said, “a multitude of initiatives and policies to protect, preserve and promote cultural heritage have been undertaken, like the ASEAN Cultural Creative Cities Network for Sustainable Development. ASEAN has also taken concrete steps to shift mindset from mitigation to prevention. Through the ASEAN Declaration on Culture of Prevention, ASEAN advocates a cross-cutting upstream preventive approach to address cultural loss due to climate change and illegal trafficking”.

The meeting held in a hybrid format (physical and virtual), was chaired by Minister of Culture of the Republic of Italy Dario Franceschini and attended by ministers from G20 countries and international organisations, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports
(MCYS) stated.

The ministers discussed global issues relating to culture, heritage, history and the creative industries through the themes, protection of cultural heritage; addressing climate change through culture; building capacity through training and education; digital transition and new technologies for culture; and culture and creative sectors as drivers for the regeneration and sustainably balanced growth.

The ministers issued the document, Declaration-G20 Culture Ministerial Meeting, which among others presented joint efforts to make creative culture and economy as the main agenda in the development process and policy in achieving the United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development; making the cultural sector, cultural heritage and creative industries as one of the post -pandemic recovery strategies; as well as cooperating in eradicating the illegal trafficking of cultural property and threats to intellectual property.

Permanent Secretary (Community and Culture) Hajah Nor Ashikin binti Haji Johari, and senior officials at the MCYS were also present.