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First batch of Advisers appointed by the Buddhist Channel
By Pandita Ko, The Buddhist Channel, Nov 10, 2004
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- Five prominent Buddhist individuals became the first persons to be appointed as members of the "International Advisory Panel (IAP)" today. Each of the panelists - coming from different countries and with expertise in various disciplines - is expected to play a critical role in establishing the Buddhist Channel as a truly global, web based media platform.
The five appointed advisers are Anurut Vongvanij (Thailand), Benny Liow (Malaysia), Gary Gach (United States), Goh Seng Chai (Malaysia) and Senaka Weeraratna (Sri Lanka). Their appointments were made in their individual capacity, but the selection was based upon their vast contribution to Buddhist development in their own area and expertise.
According to Lim Kooi Fong, founder and Managing Editor of the Buddhist Channel, the IAP is an integral, strategic component for the long term sustainability and development of the global Buddhist community. "The BC is not just a Buddhist dedicated news channel, but more of a virtual and cross cultural bridge between adherents of the Buddha Dharma all over the world," he said. What is more important, he adds is that the platform is able to provide a sustained momentum for individuals to voice out their aspirations and contribute towards strengthening the Buddha Sasana.
"It doesn't matter if you practice Zendo, Vipasanna, Tiendai or Tantra, or whether you are a practicing meditator in Middle America, a Lama in Siberia, or a faithful devotee in a forest monastery in Northern Thailand, what really matters is how sincere we are in applying the Dharma to spiritually better our own lives and society," he emphasized. That explains why the BC remains loyal to the 'non-sectarian' emphasis of the news coverage. It shows in its logo, a three petal lotus of different colors, each shade representing the mainstream schools of Buddhism. The symbol of the lotus itself, signify potential enlightenment in each of us while still striving in the rounds of samsara.
Lim also mentioned that the composition of the IAP reflects closely on the goals and philosophy of the BC. "While the Buddha Dharma is ubiquitous, its values and principles are manifested through individuals. As such, members of the IAP will help to advise and moderate the BC?s development through their knowledge and networks,? he said.
Among key areas of development which members of the IAP can play a role are:
(a) Media development,
(b) Current issues affecting local neighborhoods, regional areas or globally,
(c) Establishing a more effective global Buddhist network of expertise and exchange, and
(d) Establishing a means to dynamically cultivate cross cultural understanding among Buddhists from various regions.
At this stage, the first batch of appointees has basically covered these aims. However, the appointment of the next batch is expected to have complete representation of individuals from all corners of the world. ?With such an outreach?, Lim says, ?the BC can legitimately claims that it somewhat represents a global Buddhist voice. That?s why its tag line reads ?The Channel that Buddhists can call their own.??
Another important distinction between a platform such as the BC and that of a typical Buddhist organization is that some members of the IAP are selected on the basis of their expertise. Lim believes that such skills are needed to forge the development of a truly global Buddhist media. As such, key areas like traditional media management (television, radio, print media etc), web based technologies (the internet, wireless environment, blogs etc), market places (such as virtual museums, development of Buddhist audio-visuals, academic and spiritual literature, books and magazines etc) will have their respective representatives in the IAP so that the channel is poised to develop Buddhism as a ?way of life? in all aspects. ?We hope that the second batch of appointees will fully reflect the composition of expertise we have outlined here,? said Lim.
Why and how did the idea of the IAP come about? According to Lim, one of the drawbacks Buddhists are facing today is the lack of a legitimate media which can truly represent their interest. He leads us back to the time when the old Buddhist News Network (BNN) first originated, which was in May 2001 when the Taliban threatened to blow up the 2000 years old Bamiyan Buddhas. He explained his frustration of not having a platform to disseminate that important piece of news, as traditional media tends to downplay such items. ?I turned to many organizations, pleading them to take actions when I first got the news.? he explained, ?But they just shrugged it off and even asked me if the news were legitimate, as it was not yet reported on mainstream newspapers,? he adds with a slight air of frustration.
Lim said if a Buddhist media and a corresponding IAP had existed then, it would have been possible to engage an expert panel of archaeologists to lobby governments and their respective associations to take concrete actions. Nevertheless, the destructions of the ancient monoliths gave birth to new millennium icons, such as the BNN and now the BC. Lim firmly believes that with these facilities in place, Buddhists will be better prepared to face any events or confront any eventualities, as he says in his own words, ?Buddhism fits very nicely into the gloves of globalization.?
With the ground breaking appointment of the BC?s first IAP members, the facility is poised to become a household name in the Buddhist world.
Of the Buddhist Channel International Advisory Panel
Anurut Vongvanij is the President of the World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth. He also holds the Presidency for the Young Buddhist Association of Thailand under Royal Patronage. As a dedicated leader who strongly advocates Dhamma based education, Anurut is the Deputy Rector of the World Buddhist University based in Bangkok. He was recently conferred the Commander [Third Class] of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn.
Benny Liow is the editor of Eastern Horizon, journal of the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia. He is the founder chairman of the BGF and Vice Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Global Conference on Buddhism 2002. He has published three books "K.Sri Dhammananda: A Pictorial Retrospect", "K.Sri Dhammananda Felicitation: Essays in Honor of His 80th Birthday" for the Buddhist Gem Fellowship and ?108 Treasures for the Heart: A guide for daily living?. Benny holds a B.A. Hons. Ed. degree from Universiti Sains Malaysia and MPA from University of Malaya.
Gary Gach is author of six books, most recently "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism", now in a second edition. His anthology "What Book ~ Buddha Poems from Beat to Hiphop" was honored with an American Book Award. He's also co-translator of a number of forthcoming works in English from Ko Un, SSN. He's published in over 150 newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. His work has been translated into Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Greek, Korean, and Russian. He practices in the tradition of the Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh. His home page is : .i.n.t.e.r.b.e.i.n.g. : http://word.to
Goh Seng Chai is currently a member of the Executive Council of the World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB). He is also the President of the World Fellowship of Buddhists ? Selangor Regional Centre. Seng Chai has vast experience in the management of Buddhist organizations. For the last 40 years or so, he has been involved in administrating Buddhist activities for reputed organizations such as the Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia, The Buddhist Missionary Society of Malaysia and the World Fellowship of Buddhists. He was confered the royal title of "Pingat Jasa Kebaktian? (PJK) by His Royal Highness, the Sultan of Selangor Darul Ehsan in 2000.
Senaka Weeraratna is the Honorary Secretary of the German Dharmaduta Society, which owns and administers the Berlin Buddhist Vihara in Germany. Mr. Weeraratna spent nearly 20 years in Australia where he worked as a Lecturer in Law, Legal Officer and commercial Solicitor in Melboune before he returned home to Sri Lanka. He is an Attorney-at-Law and a Legal Consultant on Animal Welfare Legislation to Sri Lanka's Law Commission. He is the Webmaster of the Buddhist News and Comment (BNC) website.