Like many people around the world, the media has become an inseparable aspect in our lives, noted Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN.

Everywhere we go, we see advertisements, magazines, television sets, radios, computers — and we perceive it as a source of entertainment, information, and communication, he noted. Asia Pacific, with its large Gen-Y population, has become the fastest growing region of social media users in the world. In fact, ASEAN Member States such as Philippines and Malaysia have already achieved penetration rates of as much as 85% for popular social media sites.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Asia Media Summit (AMS) 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand, Dr. Surin noted that “The A-M-S is an annual media gathering attended by decision makers, media professionals, scholars, and stakeholders from Asia, Pacific, Africa, Europe, Middle East and North America–but it also stands for ASEAN Member States,” he said, followed by laughter from the audiences.

“Time has changed, and we should change with time,” he said, pointing out how fast the world has changed, and with it, the need to stay updated with the information exchange.

The rise of the middle class in ASEAN, and the increase of our purchasing power, point to our growing importance and our roles in the global economy, as well as the decision-making process.

“The media is the communicator for ASEAN – bringing the truth to the world and rolling out the news. Seen from a larger perspective, the media has contributed to ASEAN’s growth politically, economically, socially, culturally,” he said.

“Everyone in the world is watching us (the Asia Pacific and ASEAN), and we need you – the media’s watchful eyes, your critical minds — to keep us on track,” he added.

The ceremony also heard a written message from the Secretary General of the United Nations – Mr. Ban Ki Moon – who stressed the importance of scrutiny by a responsible media, in global affairs.

The panel also expressed their appreciation to the sponsors, as well as to the Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS), for the tireless support of the 2-day summit.