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12 Dec 07
Members of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD www.cald.org) pledged their support for and solidarity with the Singapore Democrats at the handing over ceremony in Taipei, Taiwan.
“We in CALD pledge our unwavering support to the SDP and its leader Dr Chee Soon Juan for its struggle for democracy in Singapore,” outgoing Chairman, Senator F Drillon of the Liberal Party, said (watch video here).
Leaders of the various member parties reiterated their stand that the handing over of the Chairmanship to Singapore Democrats was a show of support for the democratization process in Singapore.
Conspicuously, the SDP assumed CALD’s leadership on 10 Dec 07 which is also International Human Rights Day and will hold the position for the next two years.
In accepting the seal of CALD, SDP Chairman Gandhi Ambalam noted that the event brought happiness as well as a tinge of sadness: “The SDP is happy that CALD is placing confidence in a Singapore opposition party to uphold its core values of freedom, democracy, human rights and rule of law.”
He added, however, that the party is also sad that that Dr Chee Soon Juan, a stalwart of CALD, could not be present in Taipei on this important occasion.
Mr Ambalam reminded delegates that the SDP secretary-general is prevented from leaving Singapore because he was made bankrupt by its two former prime ministers, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Goh Chok Tong.
He also said that the spate of legal actions against the SDP and its leaders are not over yet, and that the Government had singled out the Democrats for continued persecution because of its effort to reform Singaopre’s political system.
Mr Ambalam was accompanied by Vice-Chaiman Francis Yong, Assistant Secretary-General John Tan, and Executive Committee member Chee Siok Chin. The SDP leaders were in Taiwan to attend the CALD-LI (Liberal International) conference.
“The PAP is denying the people of their basic rights that are the prerequisite for sustainable economic development,” Mr Ambalam said. “These are values that the SDP, CALD and LI share.”
The plight of the SDP came up for repeated mention during the conference which was opened by Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian. Delegates from Africa, Asia, the Middle East. South America, and Europe expressed their concern and solidarity.
At its Executive Committee meeting following the conference, CALD outlined a series of activities for 2008 to promote democracy throughout Asia. CALD’s secretariat is headed by its Secretary-General and Executive Director, former Filipino congressman Dr Neric Acosta