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When people from around the world come together, interesting discoveries abound. That’s exactly what happened at the recent Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) Youth Festival, where youths from political parties and organizations in Asia and Europe, including the SDP, gathered to discuss and exchange ideas on freedom and democracy in Asia.$CUT$
Two of our
Young Democrats (YDs), Mr Clarence Zeng and Ms Cheryl Tay, attended the five-day CALD Youth Festival 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand. The event consisted of a four-day programme revolving around political freedom and democracy in Asia, as well as a meeting on the final day with the International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY) Executive Committee.
The YDs met with other delegates from the Youth Wing of the Council of Asian Liberals & Democrats (CALD Youth) for its general assembly and, over four days, representatives from around Asia presented the political happenings in their own countries.
A wide range of topics, from the election controversies in Malaysia to the rise of religious extremism in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, was discussed. Ms Cheryl Tay spoke about how the façade of economic growth has masked the sacrifice of fundamental political freedoms in Singapore.
The event was also graced by several dignitaries, including leader of the Liberal Party of Sweden Mr. Johan Pehrson, and former Thai PM Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva. The senior party leaders elaborated on the geo-political happenings in in Southeast Asia, and the possible impact of these events in future.
The CALD Youth Assembly was concluded on the last day where new leaders were elected. Ms Selyna Peris from Sri Lanka was replaced by Thailand’s Mr Nant Thananan while the position of Secretary General was filled by Bulgan Bayasgalant of Mongolia’s Civil Will Green Party.
It was encouraging to note the orderly yet open manner in which the elections were held.
After the elections, IFLRY, of which the Young Democrats are a member, conducted its Executive Committee Meeting.
The meeting highlighted the activities IFLRY has participated in around the globe, from the United States to the Middle East. At the same time, Mongolia’s Civil Will Green Party, as well as the Young Australian Democrats, were also inducted as Candidate Members into IFLRY.
The YDs have certainly gained valuable knowledge on freedom and democracy in other nations, and hope to apply these new insights to the betterment of the SDP, as well as Singapore itself.