The Young Democrat (YD) Jarrod Luo was recently in Kathmandu, Nepal to attend the annual general meeting of the Young Liberals and Democrats of Asia (YLDA) of which the YD is a member.
A seminar, entitled Globalisation: The Future of Asia, was held in conjunction with the meeting.
Among some of the topics discussed were how globalization brought about the growing importance of Southeast Asian countries and the rise of India and China and how globalization can be used as a tool for democratization.
In one of the break-up sessions, the topic of whether human rights and democracy were at odds with Asian values.
The group discussed the views of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the late Kim Dae Jung. While Mr Lee emphasized Confucian values, he missed the point that according to Confucius, respect for authority must be earned, not demanded.
While Mr Lee adopts Western economic practices he disregards the supporting framework provided by Western socio-political practices and values which are important complements.
Lee subjugates individual rights for the “greater good” which is vaguely defined according to the whims of the ruling clique. Participants also discussed the familial ties in autocratic states which lead to cronyistic practices.
On the other hand, Kim Dae Jung said that human rights were very much a part of Asian cultures. The former dissident turned president of South Korea brought his country from a military dictatorship to a functioning democracy that exists today.
Singapore was again the subject of discussion in another workshop. It was pointed out that the city-state is increasingly becoming a role model for repressive authoritarian states in Asia such as Burma, China, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
Participants agreed that the so-called the Singapore way must be called out and exposed for what it is.
Mr Jarrod Luo, the Honorary Secretary of YD, also had discussions with YLDA President, Mr Jan-Argy Tolentino, about organising an event in Singapore next year. The event theme will be centred along the lines of capacity-building and leadership training, or organisational management skills.
Mr Tolentino was receptive of the idea and will flesh out the programme in the near future.
Singapore’s youth must become more politically aware and active. This will ensure that our future will not completely dominated by the PAP. Young activists must step up and shoulder the fight for democracy.
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