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Young Democrats, Surayah Akbar andSolange Chee represented the Singapore Democrats at a Council ofAsian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) conference on DemocraticTransitions held in Bangkok 17–18 November.$CUT$ Dr James Gomez, who wasin Thailand separately, delivered a paper on the Rule of Law.
The conference was held in tandem witha workshop on Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Preparednesswhich was chaired by Antonio Oposa, Professor of Environmental Law atPhilippines University.
The workshop included presentations onsuccessful adaptation and disaster preparedness in Asia and bestpractices in building climate change adaptability at regional level.The CALD network, noting the key challenges posed to the environmentin recent years, placed climate change firmly on its agenda lastyear. Arguing that we need to think out of the box, Prof Oposa said,”We cannot solve a problem using the same mindset that created theproblem in the first place.”
The Democratic Transitions conference,focusing primarily on managing Burma’s political transition,included sessions on building democratic institutions; forging ethnicharmony; the importance of the rule of law, and encouraging humanrights-friendly investment policies. This is particularly relevant inthe context of the Washington Consensus, about which partySecretary-General is addressing Yale University today.
Among the speakers was Mr Chito Gascon,Undersecretary in the office of President Benigno Aquino III and ProfHsu Kuang-Jung of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union who gavea detailed presentation on the dynamics between nuclear power andpetroleum on the one hand and politics on the other.
The conference was presided over by MrSam Rainsy Chairperson of CALD (pictured with the SDP delegatesand former CALD Chair, Dr Rajiva Wijesinhe of Sri Lanka). Mr Sam isLeader of the Opposition in Cambodia. His party recently gainedanother 12 senatorial seats in the Cambodian parliament despiteserious attempts at hobbling reminiscent of the PAP’s own methods over several years by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Following the conference, CALD held anExecutive Committee meeting followed by the book launch of Freedom toOrganize, which is a collection of best practices on politicalorganisation adopted by the various member parties of CALD.
The Council of Asian Liberals andDemocrats was formed in 1993 as a network of Asian organisations toprovide a platform to address issues of significance in the region.Its inaugural General Assembly was hosted in Bangkok by then ThaiPrime Minister, Chuan Leekpai and Korean opposition leader, laterPresident Kim Dae-Jung, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000. Itmeets regularly for workshops and thematic conferences as well asproducing resources and packs for member parties. Dr Chee Soon Juanchaired the organisation between 2008 and 2010.