Chee to speak in Tokyo symposium on civil society

Democrats secretary-general, Dr Chee Soon Juan, has been invited to speak at a symposium at the Waseda University in Tokyo. Entitled Civil Society and New State Governance the conference, featuring researchers and academics from around the world, will take place from 19-21 November 2003.

Among the topics to be discussed is the development and functioning of civil society in Asean countries, Japan, China, and South Korea. The international gathering will analyse the global civil societys movement as well as identify the tasks of civil societies in Asian countries in promoting human- and people-centred development in the region.

Civil society in Asia started developing in earnest in the 1980s. People power in the Philippines, the transition of military to civilian rule in South Korea and Thailand, the lifting of martial law in Taiwan, the change in government in Japan, and the toppling of the Suharto government in Indonesia all heralded the flourishing of movements that saw the transition from a state-centred development model to one more people-based.

The few exceptions to this trend include Singapore. Dr Chee will highlight the problems confronting civil society in Singapore and the sustained pressure the PAP keeps on the sector in order to ensure that the power rests solely in the hands of the ruling party.