(Bentota, Sri Lanka/ May 31, 2003) Three prominent South Asian liberal movements and two Hong Kong legislators signified their intention of joining the Council of Asian Liberals & Democrats (CALD) during its 2003 General Assembly today at the Taj Exotica.
Officials of the Indian Liberal Group, the Liberal Forum of Pakistan, and the Institute for Democracy and Leadership of Sri Lanka expressed their interests in becoming member-organizations of CALD. In addition to the current 8 member-parties (Democrat Party of Thailand, Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan, the Liberal Parties of the Philippines and Sri Lanka, the Singapore Democratic Party, the National Council of the Union of Burma and the Sam Rainsy Party of Cambodia), CALD currently has eight observer organizations. Prior to the three groups, the CALD observers are the Indonesian Democracy Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the National Awakening Party (PKB) of Indonesia, the Democrat Party and the Liberal Party of Japan and the Millennium Democratic Party of Korea.
Dr. Martin C.M. Lee, founder of the Democrat Party of Hong Kong and his colleague, Sin Chung Kai, expressed their interest in joining CALD in their individual capacities. The CALD Charter was revised on May 15, 2000 in Jakarta to accommodate individual members who would have no voting privileges. Messrs. Lee and Sin are frequent speakers and delegates to CALD conferences.
The Indian Liberal Group (www.liberalsindia.com) was founded by Minoo Masani in 1964. Among the founding members of the Group were Prof. B.R.Shenoy, Mr. H.V.R.Iengar, Dr. Fredie Mehta, Mr. Khushwant Singh and Madame Sophie Wadia. ILG emphasizes that a market economy by itself does not ensure an open society; that a free economy and a free society are two sides of the same coin and that a free and democratic society alone will ensure a satisfying standard of life for the individual.
The Liberal Forum of Pakistan (www.liberal-forum-pakistan.sdnk.org) is a civil society initiative, which evolved after discussions among concerned citizens from various parts of the country. It was formally launched on August 11, 2000 in Lahore. Liberal Forum Pakistan has an elected National Council and dozens of chapters spread all over the country. The Forum’s individual members are actively involved in decision-making at the local and national level; and are part of a more active civil society that is able to voice its opinions and formulate reform policies.
The Institute for Democracy and Leadership is a group of professionals committed to promoting liberal thinking in Sri Lanka. It has been in operation throughout Sri Lanka since 1997. Its main objective is to establish a strong civil society with liberal values in Sri Lanka with education as the paramount means of achieving this end.
Dr. Martin C.M. Lee (www.martinlee.org.hk) is the Founding Chairman (1994-2002) of the Democratic Party, Hong Kong’s largest and most popular political party. Prior to the founding of the Democratic Party in October 1994, Mr. Lee was Chairman of the United Democrats of Hong Kong – Hong Kong’s first political party – which won the first-ever democratic elections in the territory’s Legislative Council in 1991. Since then, the Democratic Party has won every set of elections held in Hong Kong and has received wide public support for its stance that Hong Kong must develop democratic institutions and preserve freedom, human rights and the rule of law if the territory is to continue to prosper as part of China. Mr. Sin Chung Kai (www.sinchungkai.org.hk) is the legislator representing the Information Technology Functional Constituency in Hong Kong. He has served for over a decade as an elected Legislative Councilor and elected District Board member. Sin Chung-Kai is one of the best known advocates for democracy and IT development in Hong Kong.
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