Asian Liberals: A story of solidarity
As democracy in Asia continues to face challenges, the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) remains steadfast in promoting values that guarantee individual freedom and human rights. The solidarity among its member parties, its work to strengthen political institutions, and its organizational efficacy are an example to its counterparts in Latin America, Africa, and the Arab region.
The program Innovating Democracy Through Technology that CALD organized in Taipei, Taiwan on October 19-22, 2019 brought together Red Liberal de América Latina (RELIAL), African Liberal Network (ALN), and the Arab Liberal Federation (ALF). They participated in meetings that demonstrated CALD’s solid network and strategic efforts to counter the growing threats of authoritarianism and populism in the region.
“This is a difficult time for Asia, and for many democracies. We’re witnessing very dramatic changes. In Taiwan, we’re in the middle of elections that are equally dramatic. Technology, democracy, and also dealing with disinformation or influence operations are very timely topics for all of us here,” said CALD Chairperson Bi-Khim Hsiao.
Technology as the great leveller
“Technology can be a double-edged sword While some say that today’s technology is partly to blame for the shift of political culture, its potential to revive democracy is also recognized,” said CALD Executive Director Lito Arlegue.
Presenting examples of how technology contributed to Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P)’s recent electoral success, Putri Ayu Anisya, Member of Regional People’s Representative Council in South Tangeran, Banten Province pointed out that the use of technology was confined to communications and media information in the party. “We are able to maximize votes, ensure intra-party synchronization, create a space for policy deliberation, and improve office operations,” enumerated Anisya.
PDI-P employs BSPN an internet platform that identifies party bailiwicks, and Djarek, an online member registration system. PDI-P is the party of President Joko Widodo, and a CALD member party.
Chung-Kai Sin of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong (DPHK) talked about technology’s role in the protest in Hong Kong. “It’s a tool to float ideas, get support, and disclose the truth,” shared Sin.
“Digital is now the foundational platform of any party organization and campaign. It can no longer be an add on,” quoted Arlegue from the discussions in the program.
CALD, the umbrella organization of liberal political in Asia, was established in 1998. It has nine member parties: PDI-P, Democrat Party of Thailand (DP), Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan (DPP), Liberal Party of the Philippines (LP), Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (PGRM), Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), Civil Will-Green Party of Mongolia, and Nation Awakening Party of Indonesia (PKB). The National League for Democracy of Myanmar (NLD) is an observer party. There are two individual members from Hong Kong.