Silver linings in Southeast & East Asia
Threats to liberal democracy are increasing. But for FNF, for the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, freedom is non-negotiable.
In Southeast and East Asia, as elsewhere, threats to liberal democracy include populism and disinformation. Some wily leaders suppress the truth and press freedom. They attack their political opponents viciously and court voters with misplaced promises. Privacy is more and more constrained. Individual and social spaces are monitored to gain control of everyday life.
Yet amidst the chaos and noise, we find silver linings in our region. The world looks to Malaysia after its voters breathed democracy back to life, unseating a party that had ruled the country for over 60 years. Now, a new government coalition has a chance to repeal draconian laws, reform the election system, and curb corruption.
Throughout Southeast and East Asia, an alarming gender gap remains. That said, scores relevant to the gap between men and women continue to improve with integration of tertiary educated, higher-skilled women into the labor force. In our annual report, we feature famous Asian women who have dedicated their lives to the struggle of democracy in their countries. Their accomplishments show how the journey towards freedom and democracy is a long haul, but worth it.
The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has eight country offices in Southeast and East Asia. 2018 was a busy year for us. Our partners worked hard to promote democracy, human rights, a digital and open society, and market economy. We also marked the Foundation’s 60th Anniversary. FNF was founded by Germany´s former President Theodor Heuss in 1958.
In the region, we celebrated our anniversary with our friends, including the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats. CALD themselves commemorated their 25th Founding Anniversary. We also celebrated 25 years of FNF cooperation with Sisters in Islam in Malaysia.
As you read through this report, we take stock of our milestones and reflect on what we can do to step up our efforts to surmount challenges.