On the First ASEAN Bloggers Conference

I am honored to be invited along with Unspun and Herman Saksono to attend The 1st Malaysian ASEAN Regional Bloggers Conference – Blogging Mindfully and Responsibly in Intercontinental, Kuala Lumpur (KL), 23 – 24 April 2011.

I was totally clueless about what’s happened in ASEAN blogosphere. So, what I have in mind about this conference is all about creating friendship with bloggers from all over ASEAN countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, VietNam). But the first moment I step in KL and meet other bloggers, I realized that this is far more serious than that.

Responsible blogging. This is the conference all about. Good point from one of the speakers in the conference: being responsible is a state of mind, whether or not you’re blogging. So, just be responsible. Period.

Most of Indonesian bloggers will frowned to hear the term of responsible blogging. Because most of estimatedly 4,8 million blogs in Indonesia talk about personal, lifestyle, and all fun stuff. I only can mention and as Indonesian political blogs. As a reader, I see the blogs are well moderated and also have a ‘responsible content’ by default. (Responsible content means all the facts and datas shown in blog are ‘valid’)

But if we see the condition of most ASEAN countries that attend the conference (34 bloggers from 8 ASEAN countries), responsible blogging that has been discussed, actually become relevant.

On the first day of the conference, bloggers from each ASEAN countries sharing their insight of blogging environment in their country.

In Brunei, there are only social blogging. No political blogging. Blogging about the Royal Family is a big NO NO. They mostly blog about food and doing photo journalism.

In Cambodia, the government is still very paranoid with bloggers. A blogger once being sued for printing a sensitive blog post and distribute it among his colleagues.

In Singapore, a critical Blog has gazetted as a ‘political association’. This means the Blog must now follow the tight rules set for political parties in Singapore. This is in anticipation of the upcoming general elections, which now has been set on 17 May.

In Thailand, there’s lesse majeste law which translate to ‘injury to the Monarch’. So if your blog ‘injured the Monarch’, it can be blocked.

In Vietnam, bloggers would ‘talk in circle’ in their writing to ‘safely’ express their political view.

In Malaysia, Blog House Malaysia shared that Malaysian blogs could break stories to offline medias. From what I’ve heard, the athmosphere could be tense between the bloggers and the government due to critical posts toward the government.

Only in The Philippines, blogging situation is pretty much alike with Indonesian. We mostly blog about the lifestyle and we’re free to gather and form a community.

On day 2 of the conference, the Former Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr Mahathir Mohammad & wife, the patron of Blog House Malaysia, and also Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak & wife Rosmah Mansor, has attended to show their support.

I was introduced to Ibu Rosmah as, “The BIG blogger from Jakarta.” And I was like, “Haha….” (I swear I see her cringed. She must thought I’ve wrote so many critical posts to Indonesian government or something).

When I sit beside ibu Rosmah for lunch (It’s a round table lunch bloggers conference, and I sit in VVIP table :D), we didn’t talk much. But when PM Najib Razak mentioned me in his speech, “I am told the Asean bloggers who are here include some of their most influential, including heads of the countries’ respective blogger associations and a lady blogger from Jakarta who is also the author of 17 books.” She turned to me and smile, and I nodded gracefully :)) Check PM Najib Razak full keynote speech transcript at ASEAN Bloggers Conference.

I explained to the First Lady, that I blog mostly about entrepreneurship and writing. I also explain the blogging situation in Indonesia, where we mostly blog about lifestyle. One thing leads to another and we started to discuss about education and she told me all about her activities and programs in education (which also has been my concerned, that’s why me and friends initiate

I thanked the PM for mentioning me, and explained about Indonesian blogger conference called Pesta Blogger. I also asked him about how he manage his twitter @NajibRazak. He said that he twit mostly at night and rarely twit personal stuff. He asked me, “Did SBY twit?” I said, “No….”

Well, in Indonesia, twitter is big (We’re #1 in Asia). And to penetrate twitter, officials must be very careful and have a deep research on what to say and what no to say, or it would backfire instead… Learning from our infamous minister twitter *ehm*

The conference resulting a KL consensus, basically a declaration of how we could make ASEAN a better blogging place. Check the 5 points of KL consensus here in ASEAN Blogger Networks.

On Monday, our photos & news are on a lot of media (including The New Straits Times) & TV in Malaysia. Some of my Malaysian friends reporting that they saw me on TV, yay :D

Hopefully, all of us could benefit from each other experience and we could form a stronger ASEAN through blogging. A very interesting idea from Unspun & Minh about ASEAN blogs aggregator website. I think it’s a great idea and we should do that.

And by the end of the day, it’s still about friendship and understanding between ASEAN countries. See this video to understand what I’m talking about :D

Thank you Blog House Malaysia & committee for inviting us.

Syed Akbar Ali, president
Akramshah Sanusi, vice president
Tony Yew, secretary
Firdaus Abdullah, assistant secretary
Zakhir Mohamad, treasurer
Datuk Nuraina Samad, exco
Eric Woon , exco
Shamsul Akmar, exco
Salahuddin Hisham, exco
Endie Shazalie Akbar, exco
Rocky Bru, adviser

You all did a great job with the conference! And always a nice conversation with you guys…!

Also to my new friends all over ASEAN:

Brunei (Reeda Malik and Rano Iskandar) – Always busy taking pics :D
Cambodia (Sopheap Chak, Kounila Keo and Ramana Sorn) – You rock, girls! Bong Se Lang Ong Te? :D
Philippines (Tonyo Cruz and Blogie Robillo) – Love your sense of humor :)) Tonyo, you promised me Robin Padilla!
Singapore (Prof. Cherian George) – Love the concept of focus week blogging
Thailand (Chandler Vandergrift) – He’s unique because he’s a Canadian represent Thailand blogger (and almost killed by M79 grenade!)
Vietnam (Hy Huynh and Anh Minh Do) – American born Vietnamese, they’re very funny boys :))
Malaysia (Abigail Law and friends) – Stay happy and powerful!


India (Anirudh Bhati) – Hope you have fun extending your visit in KL *cough* *glance to Nila*

I will miss you all!

Love and see you all in Jakarta!

Check all pictures of ASEAN Bloggers Conference in my Flickr



A writer of 30 books. Co-Founder & CMO & Initiate StartupLokal, the biggest startup community in Indonesia. Co-Managing Director of Girls in Tech Indonesia.


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