SOCDEM Asia gathered 20 young politicians from Indonesia, Malaysia, Timor Leste and the Philippines for Political Management Training. The program, in pilot run, was a 5-day training for young progressive leaders that aimed (1) to provide capacity-building training on political management for young progressives; (2) to provide a platform for sharing and shared-learning of young progressives in the region; (3) to provide a common venue to foster strategic connections among young progressives.
The training included key areas of political management: deepening understanding of different political ideologies; party organizing and development; leadership; political communications and negotiations. The interactive training involved analyses, group work and simulation to be able to hone and practice skills in decision-making, strategizing, argumentation, and communication. The training tapped experts and practitioners from different fields to serve as resource persons/mentor-coaches. These include Professor Nathan Quimpo of Tsukuba University, Mr. Alexander Grandt Petersen, President of the Social Democratic Youth of Denmark and Mr. Percival Cendana, Former Chairperson of Akbayan Party and current Assistant Secretary at the Philippine National Youth Commission, Mr. Vincent Pozon, President of advertising company Estima, Member of Philippine Congress Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao and Mr. Josel Gonzales, and Mr. Augutus Cerdena, Program Coordinator of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Manila.
The young leaders are members of parliament, local government unit officials, young professionals in government service, and youth leaders in political parties or unions from 18-35 years old, who see politics as their mission and appreciate politics as a means to change society. Through this first political management training, participants acquired knowledge and skills to be able to train fellow young progressives in their respective countries using new content and methods. The participants also recognized the partnership and cooperation built among them during the training which could yield cross-country sharing and solidarity work.
We unequivocally condemn the terrorist attacks in Jakarta, and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Indonesia, who are valiantly battling the monstrous manifestations of extremism and various forms of radical ideology.
We express our deepest condolences for the victims of the latest act of terrorism in Indonesia as well as those in other countries like Turkey and Burkina Faso in recent days. No creed, including the compassionate religion of Islam, condones these deliberate targeting of innocent civilians for the achievement of specific political goals.
Terrorism has no religion, for it is negation of basic humanity. These violent acts of cowardice in central Jakarta, claiming the lives of two civilians and injuring 20 others, underscores the growing threat posed by religious extremism, particularly by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its myriad of sympathizers around the world, including in Southeast Asia.
In recent years, Indonesia has emerged as a beacon of democracy, pluralism, and tolerance in Southeast Asia; and this has, unfortunately, made it a target of extremist groups, who oppose the country’s steady and promising democratization. Since its inception, the principle of Pancasila has undergirded Indonesia’s pluralistic and inclusive social order, which has allowed peoples of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds to live largely in peaceful co-existence and harmony.
Obviously, some extremist groups – particularly, those who subscribe to the puritanical Salafist-Wahabi ideology espoused by al-Qaeda (AQ) and ISIS and their sympathizers in Southeast Asia -- oppose this highly veritable secular legacy, which has held such a diverse country like Indonesia together. It is incumbent upon the Indonesian government to battle the spread of extremism and head off further AQ/ISIS-inspired/organized in order to protect its citizens and foreign nationals residing in the country as well as preserve its secular constitutional order and its hard-earned democratization gains.
But the new war against terror, which is supported by much of the international community in light of the horrific rise of ISIS, should not come at the expense of the fundamental civil liberties and democratic rights of citizens. It should be conducted in accordance to rule of law and human rights. It is important to fight terror with due process and democratic values, otherwise Indonesia risks playing into the hands of extremists, who want to undermine the country’s democratic order.
We, as social democrats and progressives, stand together with our Indonesian brethren in this difficult but necessary fight against terror and radicalism in order to preserve democracy and pluralism in our societies.
Just as Myanmar lurches towards democracy, with National League for Democracy (NLD) poised to reconfigure the country’s political landscape after a massive electoral victory, the much more prosperous Thailand is experiencing a reverse trend. On the surface, the Kingdom of Thailand presents an image of tranquility, prosperity and hospitality. Yet, the world knows, and should be reminded of, the continuing atmosphere of political repression in the country, especially after the Thai military once again stepped into and exerted control over civilian politics, suspending democratic contestation and civil liberties in favor of what seems to be a protracted martial law under the rule of army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha. While one can’t deny the unruly nature of Thailand’s politics in the past century, with more than a dozen military coups and constitutions constantly reshuffling the country’s political order, the imposition of military rule and its perpetuation is both unjustifiable and unsustainable. Despite all its imperfections, Thailand’s recent struggles with democratic politics reflect the natural birth pains of participatory governance and underline the people’s demand for greater say in the public sphere and the respect for fundamental human rights and civil liberties.