Mastera meeting to focus on promoting region's literature.

THE 14th conference of the Southeast Asia Literature Council (Mastera) organised by the Language and Literature Bureau kicked off yesterday at the Rizqun International Hotel. The discussions during the three-day conference will be focused on the projects and five-year Mastera plan (2008-2012), particularly on joint publication projects, tradition on poem and novel writing and the development of writing among youths in the region.

Some 40 participants are attending the conference comprising secretaries and members of the Mastera committee from Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia. Singapore has also sent two of its representatives as Mastera's observing member country. The conference is aimed at fostering close literary relationship, understanding and cooperation between the countries in an effort to develop and expand regional literary towards creating high calibre literary figures worldwide.

It also acts as a coordinating mechanism for programmes that are still in the implementation process in addition to providing a platform for an integrated coordination of activities, observations and regional literature researches. It also provides an opportunity for literary figures to develop their talent in translating and publishing high quality literary works. The event provided a venue for a collaborative effort in spreading the use of the language as a means for communication and knowledge media in the regional and international arena.

The highlight of the conference would be the presentation of the 3rd Mastera Award scheduled to take place tomorrow afternoon. The award is granted to renown literary figures who have been active in writing and contributing to the development of high quality literary works in the Southeast Asian region. Three literary figures from respective Mastera member countries would be presented with the awards at the closing ceremony.

The award presentation aspires to widen the role and function of Malay language amongst non-Malay speaking countries and in the region. The presentation of the award hopefully would boost Brunei's reputation as a country that is concerned about the sovereignty of the Malay language which reflects its identity as a Malay state and create a regional understanding. Through the literature award, Mastera can also gain access to academic researches of the works and contribution of recipients of the award to be used as study references.

With the many challenges in the 21st century facing Malay language and literature, it is important that the cultural development is inline with the economic and industrial developments. It is this issue that necessitates Mastera members to work collectively.

Since its establishment in 1995, several literary projects have been implemented and had achieved the objectives set especially in examining, arrangement and publications and appreciation of literary works among others. Among those present during yesterday's session were Dr Mataim Bakar, the director of the Language and Literature Bureau; Dr H Dendy Sugono, the chairman of Mastera Indonesia and Izzah Abdul Aziz, representative for the chairman of Mastera Malaysia.