Burmese journalists are youthful and dynamic. They are learning their Ps and Qs as well as Asean secrets, such as how best to report complex issues, plus cultural sensitivities. They must discover how to decipher bloc jargon as well as diplomatic chit-chat.
What important issues should they focus on? Was it bilateral ties between Asean and Burma or common bloc issues? How to read between the lines of all available summit documents? Nyein Nyein Naing, the executive editor of 7Day News Journal, had to figure out why the Rohingya situation was not listed under “regional and international issues” as the summit’s spokesman had earlier indicated.
Instead, the issue was mentioned in one paragraph under the heading of “promotion and protection of the rights of women, children and other vulnerable groups” in order to cover the humanitarian challenges in Arakan (Rakhine) State.
Today, when Asean leaders meet, they bring along myriad issues and viewpoints—both economic and security—that they wish to share. Apart from the dispute in the South China Sea, which is being widely reported in the press, there are dozens of other issues to which the media has paid less attention—food security, climate change, environment protection and public healthcare, to name but a few.