The ASEAN Secretariat has highlighted the pivotal role played by the media in advancing regional integration during this year’s ASEAN Media Forum (AMF).

As part of Indonesia’s 2023 chairmanship, themed “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth”, the 7th AMF convened on October 31 in its capital Jakarta. Organised by the ASEAN secretariat in partnership with the Germany’s international development agency GIZ, the event drew over 40 members of leading media institutions from across the region.

“The participants reached a consensus on the need to establish the forum as a reliable platform for regional outreach with aims to spotlight the challenges and potential of ASEAN, as well as community-building efforts within the region,” said a secretariat press release.

This year’s forum marked a return to in-person gatherings after a three-year hiatus. It was opened with a special session featuring the ASEAN chair for 2023, represented by Indonesian foreign minister Retno LP Marsudi.

During the session, Marsudi addressed various critical topics, including ASEAN’s initiatives concerning Myanmar, the bloc’s role in the Indo-Pacific region, developments in economic and security matters and the intricacies of both intra and external relations for ASEAN.

“The AMF holds great significance in enabling the chair and other leaders to engage with the media. Equally vital is the media’s clear understanding of the context and behind-the-scenes workings that lead to decision-making,” she said.

ASEAN secretary-general Kao Kim Hourn also underscored the role of the media in raising awareness, fostering understanding and rectifying misconceptions related to ASEAN’s integration agenda, both within the region and globally.

“As ASEAN moves towards greater cohesion and integration, a well-informed and engaged populace is an asset to the region,” he said.

German ambassador to ASEAN Ina Lepel pointed to the forum’s function in facilitating the exchange of perspectives between ASEAN and the general public.

“The AMF has evolved and became the most critical stage to inform regional media outlets of the ASEAN story, which needs to be told,” she said.

Members of the media participated in two sessions, each with a range of expert panellists examining specific topics.

The first centred on the ASEAN-Myanmar landscape in 2025. It featured former ASEAN secretary-general Ajit Singh, former National Security Council of Thailand adviser Panitan Wattanayagorn and Asia Research Institute deputy director Maitrii Aung-Thwin.

The second focused on Timor-Leste’s journey towards ASEAN membership and included former ASEAN deputy secretary-general Sayakane Sisouvong, Timor-Leste’s Water Public Utility Company director Joao da Cruz Cardoso, and Dewi Fortuna Anwar, a professor at the Research Centre for Politics within the Indonesian National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN).

The attendees also engaged in discussions with Marty Natalegawa, a senior diplomat and author of “Does ASEAN Matter? A View from Within”, which explored the bloc’s significance within the global power landscape.

“The conversation revolved around ASEAN’s ongoing efforts and best practices in maintaining and enhancing ASEAN centrality amid various external challenges,” explained the release.