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First ASEAN Cartoon

Grouping depicted in cartoon
Bangkok Post:

Published: 28/02/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

Asean has a logo, an anthem - and now there is an Asean cartoon.

In an effort to build more understanding about Asean - the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - among the young, the Foreign Ministry recently launched Asean Discovery, a cartoon in Thai.

The cartoon tells where the grouping was formed, talks about cooperation between its members, Asean in daily life, its charter and its likely future.

Director of the Asean Affairs Division Chaovalit Salitul says the target group is primary students. An alien named Blue is the star. He and his Asean friends tell readers about the group.

"Using Blue as a character to drive the story shows that we cannot stay alone in this world. It says there is unity in Asean too," Mr Chaovalit said.

The book explains economic cooperation under the Asean Free Trade Area.

It says one can buy goods from a member country at a lower price to fix Blue's flying saucer which crashed in an Asean land.

Trade in electricity, water, transport links, cooperation on the environment, drug suppression, culture exchange, science and research are involved in the grouping. "Asean is closer to you than you think," says one character.

"We want to let people know what they get from Asean, and want to know what people want. It is not that governments want to impose anything on them," the official said.

To make the characters representing Asean member countries more interesting, the ministry asked Thai embassies to select a name to reflect people in their host countries.

Maria is from Brunei, Trumsieng from Cambodia, Budy from Indonesia, Khamsuay from Laos, Peepid from Malaysia, Momo from Burma, Forsia from the Philippines, Peter from Singapore, Siam from Thailand and Kiew from Vietnam.

They wear traditional national costumes.

"We want to show that if a country is knowledgeable about only one thing and not everything, it can join hands with other countries. It is an experience exchange among Asean members," Mr Chaovalit said.

The book, published by Ban Ittirit publishing house, describes the personality of each character.

About 10,000 copies have been distributed to schools since Children's Day.

A staff member from Ban Ittirit says the firm took more than one year to finish the 80-page cartoon book.

"We obtained more than 500 pages of documents from the Foreign Ministry and spent two weeks studying the contents. The ministry also gave us another Thai cartoon about Thai history and asked us to make our book in the same way, because it is easy for children to follow," she said.

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