Welcome Address by R. Balakrishnan on the occasion of the opening of a workshop on Environment Development for Broadcasters with special reference to Marine Environment held at AIBD on 12.4.1982 in collaboration with ESCAP and UNEP.
Honourable Minister for Science, Technology and the Environment;
The UNDP Resident Representative;
Representative of Executive Secretary ESCAP Dr. K.F. Jalal;The
The Director-General, Department of Environment;
Director, IPTAR, Participants of the workshop;
Ladies & Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome all of you this morning to the opening ceremony of this Media Workshop on Environment for Broadcasters.
This, we hope, will be the first in a series of training activities on the important subject of environment for broadcasters in the region. There are, as you are aware or will become aware before the end of this morning, a number of partners to this exercise - ESCAP, UNEP, The Government of the Netherlands, The Government of Malaysia and ourselves the AIBD.
Each must have its own reasons and objectives to come together with the others for this activity. Whatever they may be, it must be an activity that a congruence of interests- a shared curiosity or perception - alone could have brought us together. And instead of articulating what the common interests or shared curiosity or perception may be, I would take a little time to confine myself to a few brief remarks about how we came to be associated with this activity and where we hope to go from here and why. The Institute's principal preoccupation and mandate have been the the development of broadcasting skills broadcasting capability in the region. These skills and capabilities are not purely technical and professional. They also extend to apply those technical and professional skills to enable broadcasting to be a developing role especially an educational role in society - in the broadest sense of the term education, especially in societies where literacy is low or illiteracy is rampant and the opportunities for education are limited. In the context of that role it is expected that broadcasting could contribute to National and Social development in a credible and sustaining fashion.
However, given the varied expectations that there are about the electronic media, amply illustrated by the way they are structured in different countries in the region, it has been our effort not only to be involved in skills formation, but also to sensitise those skills that embank on activities that can help to meet regional, governmental goals - regardless of whether such goals have been articulated by governments or social institutions outside the fold of governments. It has not been, and it will not be, an easy task. If anything, it has been a great tight- rope walking exercise, which I would hope has laid the foundations for a healthy life for the Institute in the future.
Although we have been concerned with the broadcast media, in support of development, the Institute from its inception has endeavoured to organise a variety of activities in what we call the applied areas of broadcasting, covering such fields as population, education, consumer affairs, science education, health and hygiene, agriculture, NFE, women and social development, etc. In all these it has been our effort to bring together broadcasters and the content persons in the hope that such a marriage would enable each to better understand the potential and constraints of the other, so that together they could effect the better utilization of the broadcast media in support of development - whether in creating an awareness across a society or a part thereof; or goading people into action; or in keeping people merely informed, and so on.
The effort at the matching the content and media personnel has had a measure of success. But more can and needs to be done to bring these groups merely to their peer groups by holding fact to jargons, but also to the general population by "de-jargonising" their knowledge in the confidence that shared knowledge and ideas de-mystified could contribute to the larger good (including their own) through better public awareness and understanding.
In the specific case of Environment, for far too long much of the good work has been confined to scientists on the one hand and governmental enforcement agencies on the other. In between there have been Non-Governmental organisations, sometimes not without their own drama or dramatics. Excellent scientific research, good laws or intentions for such laws and periodic actions by environmentalists or by those concerned about environment issues alone will not be enough. There must be general and sustained interest and awareness among the public about environment and matters relating to environment. That is only possible if the masses too could be harnessed; in an effort that will eliminate jargons and clichés, and elevate existing knowledge to popular understanding and popular appeal; that the professional skills of researchers, administrators and media personnel are brought together to assist one another's efforts in educating the public at large about the various issues relating to environment, etc.
Ours is, and will remain, a modest contribution. To train and make available broadcasters to promote better understanding of environment among the general public. The broadcaster's first responsibility is not, and will never be, environment or education. But he can be schooled into being sensitive about environment and the role he could play in creating public awareness of it. It calls for inputs from the specialists and specialised agencies.
And we are pleased that our efforts and calls on them have led to this workshop. Its possibility was first discussed with Dr. Donatus De Silva of UNEP and subsequently Drs Jalal and Sharma of ESCAP. I am hopeful that the beginning made through this activity will lead to a systematic programme of training broadcasters to better understand environment so that they could contribute towards education of society at large. Equally it is our hope that this activity can lay the foundations for the framework for future actions involving UNEP/ESCAP and AIBD in encouraging the development of prototype and experimental material for broadcasters so that they will be equipped to support every worthy effort undertaken in the name of environment in their own countries.
We are extremely grateful that such a good range of resource persons as are :
Dr. K.F.Jalal, Chief, Environmental Coordinating Unit, ESCAP, Bangkok; Mr. Zaheed Hussain, Consultant, ECU ESCAP, Bangkok; Mr. R.M. Lesaca, Deputy Regional Director, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok; Dr. (Ms) Ponniah, UNESCO Regional Office, Bangkok; Dr. MA Aziz, Department of Civil Engineering, National University of Singapore; Mr. P V Krishnamurthy, former Director - General of Doordarshan, India; Mr. ST Sundram, Director - General, Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment, Malaysia; Mr.C. Maheswaran, Deputy Director-General, Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment, Malaysia; Dr. AHV Sarma, Environmental Coordinating Unit, Dr. Claudio R Sepulveda, Director, Programme on Health, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok; Dr. Donatus De Silva, Regional Information Officer, UNEP, Bangkok; Dr. Surapol Sudara, Marine Sciences Department, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok; Ms Suanne Kelman, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Toronto; Mr. T. Linga Nathan, IPTAR, Malaysia; Mr. Hugh De Silva, AIBD; and Mr.Brajesh Bhatia, AIBD have been available for the Workshop. I should thank them and through them their organisations and countries for releasing them.
On behalf of the Institute, I should also thank ESCAP, UNEP and the Netherlands for their support for this activity. But for their support none of us would have been here and to that extent both ENVIRONMENT and we should have been poorer in more ways than one.
Mr. Minister, we owe you a special word of thanks for being with us today, despite your heavy responsibilities that befalls a leader during the period of elections. Although you are not a contestant candidate this time, you could not be without a heavy responsibility for your party colleagues who are contestants. Your presence, with your Director-General, is an indication of the commitment that you and the Government of Malaysia have for the subject of Environment. While thanking you for your time and support, let me also wish you all the very best -in or out of government.