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The centrality of decently-paid jobs

Keynote speech by Liew Chin Tong
Economic Roadmap Conference
22 September 2018 / Penang, Malaysia



I want to start by offering a vision for how Malaysia’s future should develop:

Malaysian society’s income distribution will transition from its current ‘triangle’ shape which is large at the bottom, into a more equitable ‘diamond’ structure, anchored in the centre by a strong and stable middle-class.

Each of us in the New Malaysia will have to do some hard thinking about how to translate this vision into reality.

We must be clear that we did not win the last election by fanning racial, religious or sub-nationalist sentiments. Instead, the election revealed what I have always known to be true: The foremost concern of Malaysians is not one’s racial identity, but one’s rice bowl.

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Reinventing Social Democracy: Keynote Speech by Joel Rocamora

I watched the fall of the Berlin Wall on TV in Amsterdam in 1989. I wanted to provoke my companions who were mainly national liberation movement supporters. I said out loud – “That’s it, now we’re all social democrats”. Little did I know that the coming years would bring about not the ascendancy of social democratic parties but their slow seemingly inexorable decline. It is no consolation that national liberation movements also left the stage of history.

Today if we look at Western Europe, the heartland of social democracy, it is only in Portugal where there seems to be a viable Left political trend. In Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, most recently Italy, social democratic parties are being marginalized by right wing, populist parties. Austerity policies have decimated the social security structures, the main achievement of social democratic parties.

Non-Communist progressive political parties in Southeast Asia,1 whether they call themselves “social democratic” or not, have not had the experience of running governments, occupying mainly opposition spaces at varying distances from the center of power. They all face the challenge of shaping a coherent alternative to corrupt, authoritarian and populist ruling regimes. The experience of European social democracy provides important lessons, positive and negative.

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Network for Social Democracy in Asia Activity Highlights 2017

View PDF - Network for Social Democracy in Asia Activity Highlights 2017

2017 has been another fruitful year for the Network of Social Democracy in Asia gathering board representatives of political parties, policy makers, academics and youth and women organizations in the different activities. It has been a year of developing new policies for parties at the national level on health, social inclusion, the peace process, and democratic reforms while at the regional level we facilitated important discussions on alternatives to social and ecological risks of rapid urbanization, and the rise of populism and authoritarianism. We prioritized building capacities for young leaders and youth organizations and aided sister parties as they embark on modernizing party structures and reach out to more people at the grassroots through new forms of campaigning and digital activism. Exchanges and cooperation with counterparts from all over Asia and around the world have been very encouraging and fruitful. Our solidarity comforts us in the struggle amid the growing threats to democracy and continued unfair economic growth that impoverishes our people. The valuable lessons, insights and interaction from the Socdem Asia program.