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The International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY) recently held its General Assembly in Washington D. C. in October this year during which the SDP’s Young Democrats (YD) was officially accepted as a member. IFLRY boasts of 74 member organisations in every continent.
The YD had applied for membership to IFLRY in 2001. After gaining observer status for the past year, the YD was officially and unanimously voted as a full member in the international youth organization.
According to Mr Perry Tong who represented the YD, The IFLRY General Assembly was a runaway success in terms of YDs full membership application.
Mr Tong, who is also the YDs vice-president added: There were a few queries raised on what the YD was doing to promote ideals championed by IFLRY.
The Executive Committee of IFLRY was, however, keenly supportive of YDs entry into IFLRY which was reflected in its unanimous decision.
YDs membership was augmented by IFLRY President Emil Tarjass motion to pass a resolution (see below) to condemn the imprisonment of Dr Chee Soon Juan over the May Day incident earlier this year.
Several of the members were surprised that the Singapore government was so repressive, as the perception they had of Singapore was one of a democracy. They quickly expressed their desire to support the fight for democracy in Singapore by asking the YD to assign a Permanent International Officer to regularly attend and participate in the half-yearly Executive Committee Meetings and the annual General Assemblies.
The Executive Committee also expressed their desire to hold a future IFLRY event in Singapore. Mr Tong reported that among those most vocal and supportive of the YD were the representatives from the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Belgium, United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, and Macedonia.
The Young Democrats of America demonstrated particular interest in the resolution regarding Singapore, said Mr Tong, He was similarly surprised to learn of the state of democracy in Singapore.
RESOLUTION ON SINGAPORE
As expressed in the Statement of the IFLRY bureau of October 10th, 2002, the International Federation of Liberal Youth is greatly concerned about the imprisonment of Dr. Chee Soon Juan and Mr. Gandhi Ambalam, leaders of Singapore Democratic Party by the authorities of Singapore. As world-wide organisation, we believe that the freedom of speech and political expression is one of the basic human rights that has to be guaranteed to the whole humanity.
AWARE that last May 1, 2002, Dr. Chee Soon Juan and Mr. Gandhi Ambalam and other members and supporters of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) held a peaceful public rally at a place designated for public speeches;
KNOWING that Labor Day was chosen by the SDP in order to underscore the opposition partys concern regarding the lack of opportunities for Singaporean workers to organize themselves and protect their rights and interests;
SADDENED that Dr. Chee and Mr. Ambalam were arrested during this Labor Day rally for daring to speak without a permit and later convicted and fined for S$ 4,500 and S$ 3,000 respectively;
NOTING that Dr. Chee had chosen to serve a default jail sentence while Mr. Ambalam was subsequently bailed by his own family due to his heart ailment;
CITING that Dr. Chee had previously been jailed twice for refusing to pay the fine, once for seven days and another for twelve days, making his current detention of five weeks the longest yet;
BELIEVING that Singapores interests are best served by adherence to her own Constitutional provision regarding freedom of speech and freedom of assembly as set out in Article 14 and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, further, that such adherence will ultimately benefit Southeast Asia as a region of peace, prosperity, progress, justice and democracy;
THE IFLRY GENERAL ASSEMBLY ASSEMBLED IN WASHINGTON DC THEREFORE
EXPRESSES concern over the arrest and conviction of Dr. Chee Soon Juan and Mr. Gandhi Ambalam and continued detention of Dr. Chee.
STRONGLY URGES the Government of the Republic of Singapore to reaffirm its commitment of the fundamental principles contained in the Constitution of Singapore and the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights to which Singapore is a signatory.
CALLS for wider democratisation of the Singapore society and better opportunities for publicly representing the opinions of all the political parties, both in government and in opposition.
URGES the IFLRY member organisations and the Young Liberals and Democrats of Asia to become more involved in support and promotion of the political rights of the Singapore Democratic Party and the Young Democrats of Singapore.