Dr Chee Soon Juan is in the United States to receive the Defender of Democracy which is being presented to him by the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA, www.pgaction.org). The PGA is an international network of over 1350 Members of Parliament from 105 elected national legislatures, engaged in a range of action-oriented initiatives that promote democracy, peace, justice and development throughout the world.
The presentation will take place at the awards dinner on 16 September 2003 at the James Madison Building, Library of Congress in Washington DC during which Dr Chee will address the members of the PGA.
The award is given annually to two individuals who have “defended the principles of democracy, peace and justice around the world.” The co-recipient of this year’s award is the Foreign Minister of Greece, Mr George Papandreou. In the past, the award has been given to leaders such as former Korean President Kim Dae Jung, former Palestine spokeswoman Dr. Hanan Mikhail-Ashrawi and former Mexico President Dr Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon.
In his speech, Dr Chee will dwell on the oppressive PAP system and speak on why it is important for Singapore, for its own survival, to democratize. He will also talk about the need for the international community to do its part to help in the process of democratization in Singapore.
Our fellow democrats from around the world must see that Singapores experiment with PAPs authoritarianism works against not only the interest of our country but also that of the region, Dr Chee said.
The Secretary-General of the Democrats has worked for international support for democratic reform in Singapore. Singaporeans will have to shoulder the responsibility of bringing about political change, Dr Chee said. But like all other autocratic states that have successfully made the transition to democracies, we need the cooperation of the international community.
Dr Chee will return to Singapore on 19 September 2003.