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The Council of Asian Democrats and Liberals (CALD) described it as “a fitting end” to week of events in the Philippines’ capital of Manila as CALD members and partners witnessed the oath-taking and inauguration of Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III as 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines last Wednesday.
Among them was the Singapore Democrats’ John Tan who said he looked forward to the day a peaceful transfer of power will be similarly effected in Singapore: “We are seeing the seeds of change in Singapore and one day we will be successful like other democrats have been successful in winning power in Asia and across the world.”
Also in attendance was Foreign Minister George Yeo.
Mr Maung Maung, Secretary-General of the National Council of the Union of Burma, described the event as a “marvellous sight”, especially for someone like him who lives under a despotic regime which shows no signs of giving up power.
Aquino’s inauguration was preceded by a conference “Asian Liberal Parties in Power: Getting There, Remaining There” from June 28-29. The conference discussed Asian liberal parties’ experiences regarding the various issues and concerns that they face, whether inside or outside of government.
CALD Chairman Dr Rajiva Wijesinha MP, succinctly sum up the message of the conference in these words: “Liberals must strive, after achieving power, to ensure that the people always stay empowered.”
The Singapore Democrats have been a CALD member since 1994 and Dr Chee Soon Juan served as its chairman from 2008-2010 even though he was banned by the PAP Government from atttending any of the organisation’s meetings.
Together with the Liberal International, CALD came to Singapore earlier this year to conduct a seminar.
In another development, CALD bestowed upon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Laureate, Burma’s leader of the opposition, and one of Asia’s most revered icons of democracy an honorary individual membership.
A CALD statement said that: “In bestowing the honorary individual membership title to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, CALD once again reaffirms its unwavering support and solidarity to the people of Burma in their continuing struggle for justice, freedom and democracy.”