Democrat Party of Thailand
CALD Chair 2016 – present
Hon. Abhisit Vejjajiva was Thailand’s 27th Prime Minister, holding the post from December 2008 to August 2011. Even before that, he already had a storied political career. In 1992, Khun Abhisit won a seat in Bangkok for the Democrat Party. After the Democrat Party won the subsequent general elections, he was appointed Government Spokesperson (1992-1994). In 1997, when the Democrat Party formed the ruling government after the abrupt resignation of the then premier, Khun Abhisit was appointed a Minister Attached to the Prime Minister’s Office under the government of Khun Chuan Leekpai.
From 1992 when he won his first election, Khun Abhisit has emerged a Member of Parliament in each and every election he has contested. In a political career that has spanned two decades, he has assumed many responsibilities: Deputy Secretary General to the Prime Minister for Political Affairs (under then Deputy Prime Minister Supachai Panichpakdi); Chairman of the House Committee for Education; and as Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives for three terms.
Within the Democrat Party, he has also assumed many positions: Party Spokesman, Deputy Party Leader; and since 2005, Party Leader.
Khun Abhisit was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in the United Kingdom in 1964. After completing his primary education in Thailand, he returned to the United Kingdom to study at Eton College. He later graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) with 1st class Honours from Oxford University, where he also earned a Master’s Degree in Economics.
Khun Abhisit came to Thailand to teach at Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy from 1987 to 1988. From 1990 to 1991, he was a member of the Faculty of Economics at Thammasat University.
Civil Will-Green Party
CALD Chair 2014 – 2016
H.E. Oyun Sanjaasuren is the former Minister of Environment and Green Development, Member of Parliament and leading female politician. As co-chair of the Civil Will-Green Party, she has been a consistent advocate of clean politics, good governance and sensible socio-economic development. Her background in mining following her PhD at Cambridge has uniquely positioned her to focus on the development of Mongolia’s extremely rich soil.
Since entering politics in 1998, she had been systematically elected to parliament and had chaired a number of key standing committees, pushing in particular crucial legislation on corruption, election financing and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In 2014, she assumed the chairmanship of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD) and was elected as the inaugural President of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA). In July 2016, she became the chairperson of Global Water Partnership, a global organization that aspires for a water secure world.
To further her goals, she also founded and chairs the Zorig Foundation, a leading NGO dedicated to the advancement of democracy, good governance, and development. A former Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of the Mongolian Geological Association, she is a woman of versatile interests.
Cambodia National Rescue Party
CALD Chair 2000 – 2002, 2012 – 2014
Hon. Sam Rainsy is the President of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, a Member of Parliament and leader of the national opposition of Cambodia. His political career began with Prince Ranariddh’s Funcinpec Party, becoming the Prince’s European representative in 1989. He had previously served as Minister of Finance in a coalition government that emerged in Cambodia after the UN-supervision elections in 1993, and was a Member of the Supreme National Council of Cambodia from 1992 to 1993.
In 1995 he formed the Khmer Nation Party, which became the current Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) when it was forced to change its name in order to contest the 1998 elections, where he was re-elected to the Parliament. In 2006, Liberal International awarded him with the Prize for Freedom honoring his dedication to championing human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.
Prior to his entry to politics he was a financial analyst and investment manager with various banks and financial institutions, positions which included chairman and chief executive officer of DR Gestion, a Paris-based investment company and Bank Director at Paluel-Marmont. Sam received his MBA from INSEAD Paris.
Liberal Party of Sri Lanka
CALD Chair 2000, 2010 – 2012
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha is a Member of the Parliament, Sri Lanka Presidential Adviser on Reconciliation and Leader of the Liberal Party Sri Lanka. He previously serves as Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process in Sri Lanka (SCOPP), and also Secretary for the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights.
He is a leading liberal theoretician in South Asia, and has conducted workshops on liberalism in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan and Indonesia. His publications include: Liberal Values for South Asia, Declining Sri Lanka and Political Principles and Their Practice in Sri Lanka. He recently released a collection of speeches entitled, “Asian Liberal Perspectives: Promoting Democracy, Equity, and Pluralism.”
Hon. Wijensiha studied at Oxford University, England where he completed Bachelor and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.
Singapore Democratic Party
CALD Chair 2008 – 2010
Dr. Chee Soon Juan is a politician and political activist from Singapore. He is the leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), and a vocal opponent of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) – which has held power since 1959. In 1992, the National University of Singapore sacked him as a lecturer when he joined the SDP and took part in an election.
Dr. Chee was a Research Associate at the Monash Asia Insitute (1997); a Human Rights Fellow at the University of Chicago (2001); a Reagan-Fascell Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (2004); and a visiting fellow of the Sydney Democracy Network (2014).
He is also recepient of the Defender of Democracy Award (2003) awarded by the Parliamentarians for Global Action; and the Prize for Freedom (2011) by the Liberal International. He was also awarded the Hellman/Hammett Writers Grant by Human Rights Watch (2003).
Liberal Party of the Philippines
CALD Chair 2005 – 2007
Hon. Franklin Drilon is currently the President pro tempore of the Senate of the Philippines and serving his third term in the Senate. Previously, he served as the Senate President, a post that he previously held from the periods 2000 and 2001-2006, and again from 2013 to 2016. He was also CALD Chairperson from 2004 to 2006. He is also the chairman of the Liberal Party of the Philippines (LP), and a Senior Counsel of ACCRA Law Offices.
In 1986, Senate President Drilon commenced his career in government. He was appointed Deputy Minister for Industrial Relations of the then Ministry of Labour from 1986 to 1987. Thereafter, he assumed the post as Secretary of Labour until January of 1990. In 1990, he was appointed Secretary of Justice and subsequently, Executive Secretary of the Cabinet of President Corazon “Cory” Aquino in 1991. In July 1992, he was again appointed as Secretary of Justice.
The dynamism of Senate President Drilon continues as he contributes this time to legislature, with his well-honed skills from the Judiciary and the Executive Department, as well as private sector.
Senate President Drilon studied at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1965. He later went on to attain his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1969 from the same university.
Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan
CALD Chair 2004 – 2005
His Excellency President Chen Shui-bian has the distinction of being Taiwan’s youngest lawyer when he passed the bar exams while he was still a student at National Taiwan University where he graduated in 1974.
Before entering politics, President Chen was a senior partner at the Formosan International Marine and Commercial Law Office. After serving as part of the legal team defending democracy activists involved in the Kaohsiung Incident, President Chen became associated with the opposition movement against the KMT authoritarian government. In 1981, he ran and accrued the highest number of votes for a seat of the Taipei City Council. He was jailed for 8 months in 1986 for libel when he served as the Director of Formosa, an opposition magazine. Immediately after his release he joined the Democratic Progressive Party, and actively campaigned for the democratization of Taiwan. He later on became the chairman of the party. President Chen was elected to the Legislative Yuan in 1989 and served until 1994. He won the Taipei mayoral election in 1994, and during his tenure received a consistent approval rating of over 70 percent by Taipei residents.
In 2000 President Chen became the tenth-term president, the first non-KMT candidate to serve in that office, thus ending 55 year of KMT authoritarian rule. President Chen and Vice-President Lu Hsiu-lien were re-elected for a second term with more than 6.4 million votes (50.12% of total votes) in 2004.
Democrat Party Thailand
CALD Chair 2002 – 2004
M.R Sukhumbhand Pribatra is the current Governor of Bangkok and has held this position since 2009. He was previously a Member for Parliament for Bangkok, and served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand from 1997 to 2001 during the administration of Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai.
He previously served as an Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations, Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Between 1987 and 1993, he served as Director of the Institute of Security and International Studies. He was also Adviser to the House of Representatives Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs (1986-1988), (1989-1991), Policy Adviser to Prime Minister General Catichai Choonhavan (1988-1989) and Adviser to the House of Representatives Standing Committee for House Affairs (1989-1991). Since 1992, he has been Chairman of the Ministry of Commerce’s Advisory Committee of International Commerce. Since 1986, he has been the Chairman of the Chumbhot-Pantip Foundation.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) from Pembroke College, Oxford University. In addition, he has a Masters degree in International Relations from Georgetown University, USA.
Liberal Party of the Philippines
CALD Chair 1999
Hon. Florencio “Butch” Abad previously served as the Secretary (Minister) of the Department of Budget and Management of the Republic of the Philippines. He also served the Liberal Party as the National Campaign Manager and worked in the transition team of then President-elect Noynoy Aquino. He was a member of the House of Representatives elected in 1987 to represent the Lone District of Batanes. He was re-elected in 1995, 1998 and 2001. He became president of the Liberal Party of the Philippines from 1999 to 2004 and chairman of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats in 1999.
He served as Secretary (Minister) of Agrarian Reform during the first Aquino administration and served as Secretary of Education under the Arroyo administration. His stint as Education Secretary was cut short in 2005 when he resigned from his post due to the electoral fraud controversy charged against President Arroyo.
Hon. Abad finished his Bachelor of Science in Business Management, and Bachelor of Laws at the Ateneo de Manila University and passed the Bar Examination in 1985. A fellow of the Edward Mason Program in Public Policy and Management at the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Hon. Abad also holds a Masters in Public Administration degree.
Liberal Party of the Philippines
CALD Chair 1997 – 1998
Hon. Raul Daza was Congressman (Member of Parliament) in Lone District of Northern Samar during the 8th Congress from 1969 to 1972. In 1968-1987, he became Deputy Minister of the Presidential Commissions of Good Governance (PCGG) formed by the government of President Corazon “Cory” Aquino. In 1987, he was elected as Congressman in First District of Northern Samar during the 9th Congress. When he was re-elected as Congressman in 1992 to the 10th Congress, he became Speaker Pro Tempore. When he was re-elected again to the 11th Congress in 1995, his third and last term under the constitution, he became Senior Deputy Speaker.
He was Commissioner, Presidential Commission on Constitutional Reforms from 1999-2000. In 2001 he was elected Governor of the Province of Samar for his first term. He gained re-election in 2004 for his second term and again in 2007 for his third and last term. In 2010, he was returned to Congress and served as Deputy Speaker until June 2013.
Hon. Daza is both a lawyer and certified public accountant. He finished his Bachelor of Laws (cum laude) from the University of the Philippines and a Bachelor of Business Administration (cum laude) from the University of the East. He is a lifetime member of both the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He is also a member of the California Society of CPA’s, being the first Filipino to pass both the California attorney and the California certified public accountant examinations without any formal education in the United States.
Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan
CALD Chair 1995 – 1997
Hon. Hsu Hsin-Liang is a co-founder of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), becoming Chairman twice in 1991 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998, leading the party to a sweeping electoral success against the Kuomintang in the 1997 local-level elections.
However due to conflicts on party policies on key issues regarding the relations of Taiwan with mainland China, Hon. Hsu resigned from his DPP post in 1999 and register to run in the 2004 legislative election as an independent in Taipei City South constituency and to make a bid for the presidency also as an independent . He later on became a supporter of the Pan-Blue Coalition from which Kuomintang party was allied with.
Born in Taoyuan County, Taiwan, Hon. Hsu received his Bachelor in Political Science from the National Chengchi University in 1967 and his Master’s degree from the University of Edinburgh in 1969. He began his political career in the Kuomintang as a member of the Taiwan Provincial Assembly from 1973-1977, but broke ranks in 1977 when he ran and won as an independent in the election for Magistrate of Taoyuan County.
Democrat Party Thailand
Minister of Foreign Affairs
CALD Founding Chair 1993 – 1995
Dr. Surin Pitsuwan attended Thammasat University for two years before winning a scholarship from Claremont Men’s College, Claremont, California, to complete his B.A in Political Science (cum laude) in 1972. He then went on to Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A, where he received his M.A and PhD in 1974 and 1982 respectively, in the field of Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. His entire Harvard career was supported by the Winston S. Churchill Association and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships.
As an MP he was appointed Secretary to the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Chuan Leekpai), Secretary to Deputy Minister of Interior, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs during 1992-1995 and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1997 to 2001. He served as Chair of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and the Chair of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 1999-2000. In September 1999, while the ASEAN Chair, he led the efforts to get Southeast Asian governments to help restore law and order, and that joint undertaking, with the support of the United National and the international community, brought about peace and security in East Timor.
Upon leaving the foreign affairs portfolio in mid-2001, Dr. Surin was appointed a member of the Commission on Human Security of the United Nations until 2003. He also served as an adviser to the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty from 1999-2001. In 2002 he concurrently served on the ILO’s World Commission on the Social Dimensions of Globalization until 2004. He also served in the Advisory Board of the UN Human Security Trust Fund; the Advisory Board of the International Crisis Group (ICG); a member of the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York; an International Academic Adviser of the Leaders Project and a conference arm of the Cohen Group of former US Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, Washington D.C.
Dr. Surin was a Deputy Leader of the Democrat Party, Thailand. He also served on the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), charged with bringing peace back to Thailand’s deep South. He also served as MP in the National Legislative Assembly (NLA). He served as ASEAN Secretary General for the term 2008-2012.