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SDP leader Mr John Tan, and activists Mr Seelan Palay and Ms Jaslyn Go continued to build on the strong international alliance that the Singapore Democrats have established through the years. The three were in Jakarta, Indonesia last week for the 6th Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy.
Mr Tan and Ms Go also used the opportunity to establish goodwill and friendship with members of Partai Demokrat (Democratic Party), lead by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as well as other pro-democracy parties in Indonesia.
The World Movement for Democracy is the largest gathering of politicians, diplomats, civil society leaders, and human rights advocates. The biennial conference was held in Jakarta this year and was attended by nearly 700 participants.
With plenary sessions and breakout sessions, the conference had a good mix of high-brow discussions to hands-on training for activists such as “How businesses can foster civic leadership” and “How civil society can engage with the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Mechanism”.
Mr Seelan used the opportunity to widen networks with youth activists from around the world. He discussed with them the use of new media and technologies for advocacy and civic participation.
Participants were shocked to hear that even one person can get arrested and charged in Singapore under newly enacted Public Order Act and that it was offence to distribute flyers about democracy and human rights.
Burmese activists highlighted the need to focus on Singapore because the Burmese military junta is learning much from the Singapore Government in terms of oppressive tactics. They highlighted the fact that Singapore is one of the junta’s main “pillars of support” and the fact that millions of dollars used by the generals is being stashed in Singaporean banks.
SDP Assistant Secretary-General Mr John Tan conducted several strategic meetings with think-tanks and political parties, including Transparency International, the Southeast Press Alliance and National Endowment for Democracy.
The Singapore media blacked out news about the WMD conference even though it was a rare occasion that an international democracy conference was held in a neighbouring country.
Nonetheless it is important that Singapore continues to develop networks and to strengthen our relations with the democratic world.