SIGNIS to make vulnerable visible
PETALING JAYA — Fifty-one delegates from 15 Asian countries came together for the SIGNIS Asia Assembly (SAA) 2012, held from 1-4 October in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, working on the theme Visibility for the Vulnerable that focused on migrants and refugees, who are among the most vulnerable communities in the Asian context.
Migrant workers, victims of trafficking and refugees of all ethnicities and nationalities, especially children, face critical problems that require intervention by governments and civil society.
SIGNIS, the international association of Catholic media professionals, has a critical role to play in enabling these vulnerable communities reclaim their dignity and realize their full potential.
Visibility includes highlighting their struggles and challenges, and enabling their voices to be heard where it matters. The Assembly’s Study Days included presentations from Malaysian and international NGOs on their interaction with these disadvantaged groups and their efforts to address their plight, as well as Catholics from the Malaysian media who have to deal with these issues in the course of their daily work.
In his keynote address, Victor Karunan, deputy representative of UNICEF Malaysia, urged delegates to implement a preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, and to adopt an inter-faith approach in their social communications programmes.
In their role as social communicators, Catholic media professionals have a responsibility to bring about the authentic development of vulnerable communities, thus taking another step towards realizing a Culture of Peace through social communications.
In a statement put out to the media, the delegates endorsed that “the existence of vulnerable communities is a reality which is on the rise around the region, and needs to be addressed urgently.” The Assembly insisted that “freedom for the vulnerable demands that we have to respect and accept who they are – and not what we normally make them out to be.”
SAA 2012 also saw the special screening of the movie Soegija, a stellar Indonesian effort helmed by SIGNIS Asia vice-president Rev Yoseph Iswarahadi as executive producer. Set in the turbulent era of pre-independence Indonesia, it tells the story of Msgr Albertus Soegijapranata, Indonesia’s first Vatican-ordained bishop, who is widely regarded as a national hero. The movie focuses on the bishop’s leadership, unstinting patriotism and deep, abiding love for humanity.
Alvito de Souza, secretary-general of SIGNIS World, who also participated in the SAA, announced that the next SIGNIS World Congress (held every four years) would be convened in Beirut, Lebanon, in October 2013.
SIGNIS Asia member countries are Brunei, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.