“How can we say to any country in the world that it is not ready for democracy? Who are we to say that? How can we say that we are entitled to democracy and not you? Let the people of every country decide for themselves”, said Martin Lee, Founding Chairperson of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong (DPHK) and Individual Member of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD). CALD’s youth arm, the CALD Youth, convened in Hong Kong on 23-27 March 2017 for its inaugural CALD Youth Political Academy (CYPA) with the theme, “The 3Is of Leadership: Imagine, Inspire, Innovate.”
Mr. Lee spoke in CYPA’s first session on political activism, where he addressed more than two dozens youth leaders from Asia and Europe. He was joined in that panel by Hong Kong’s young member of parliament from Demosisto, Nathan Law. “The basic foundation of ‘one country, two systems’ in Hong Kong is the personal safety of political dissidents… but the trend now is getting worrisome”, said Mr. Law. At the height of Hong Kong’s umbrella movement in 2014, CALD issued a statement enjoining China and the international community to uphold the ‘one-country, two-systems’ and to respect the fundamental right of the Hong Kong people to chart their own destiny as promised in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. That year, CALD also organized an event that brought together around 200 liberals and democrats to Hong Kong in a massive display of solidarity to the freedom fighters of the umbrella movement.
Another highlight of this year’s CYPA was the TED Talk of Ms. Emily Lau, former DPHK Chairperson, on the importance of communication as a tool to inspire. “Engaging the people directly is the most important thing for a politician”, Ms. Lau said. “When one stands to speak, even before you open your mouth, you should be like a magnet attracting the attention of all the people in the room. You can do it by your persona and by preparation. You need to prepare what you will say… and you need to speak from the heart.”
The youth participants not only got abreast of recent political developments in Hong Kong and of useful communication techniques, but also met with a number of Hong Kong’s young start-up entrepreneurs in an event hosted by the German liberal foundation’s (Friedrich Naumann Foundation or FNF) Global Innovation Hub Office, which has recently established its base in Hong Kong. This was in line with the over-all goal of the Academy, which, according to then CALD Youth Chairperson Bulgan Bayasgalant, “…should help the participants expand their imagination, develop inspiration from fellow youth leaders, and attain inventive solutions to the current debates in their respective fields of disciplines.”
When asked on what he hoped the participants could bring back from the inaugural CYPA, the most prominent youth leader of the umbrella movement, Mr. Joshua Wong, who also spoke in the event, said: “Here in Hong Kong, while we were not able to achieve democracy through the umbrella movement, we still continue the struggle. I hope that the youth participants to this meeting are inspired by the spirit of the umbrella movement and continue to fight for the future of our generation.”
This post was written by CALD