Below are the remarks made by Chair Su Tseng-chang at the 20th Anniversary of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD), held in Manila, the Philippines on November 9, 2013.
Honorable Rainsy, Honorable Sir Watson, Honorable Van Baalen, Your Excellencies, fellow members of CALD, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to join this great gathering with our friends from CALD and ALDE to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of CALD. I am proud to say that the discussions to form CALD actually started in Taiwan in 1993 when I was serving as the Secretary-General of the Democratic Progressive Party. As you can easily tell, the DPP and CALD already formed a strong bond when Taiwan’s democratization started to gain momentum. I am very glad that the relations between the DPP and CALD are still going strong.
CALD and Taiwan Democracy
This year also marks the 27th anniversary of the DPP. In 1986 when Taiwan was still under martial law, I and 17 other members founded the very first democratic party in our country to push for democratization as the only path to end political persecution.
We fought hard against the KMT one-party rule and successfully pushed for general elections for the parliament and the president, and ultimately the DPP became the ruling party in 2000. We joined the Philippines and Korea in leading the third wave democratization in East Asia.
We have worked closely with our friends in CALD to promote democracy, human rights and freedom throughout the region. Now I am very pleased to see that CALD has become the most important party alliance in Asia. As we look back, we did not foresee how far we could go when we started this network. But we have come a long way, and we should all be proud of ourselves.
Addressing the Impact of Globalization
In the past two decades, some of us were given the opportunities to govern. But just as some new European democracies have experienced, some Asian democracies are now fighting democratic setbacks. For just one example, the people of Taiwan allowed former regime return to power a few years ago. We now see some old practices come back alive.
However, our determination to consolidate democracy in the region should not be compromised by the setbacks. What we need now is to pin down the causes and work hard to overcome the challenges. In this regard, we face fundamental issues such as building strong democratic institutions and new factors such as globalization. Even though the latter was not directly related to democracy, it has certainly impacted our democratic processes.
Globalization, beginning from the late 1990s, has brought both opportunities and challenges to all of us. Our societies have been reshaped and the societal gaps have been widened. The challenges have come very fast and people seem to have lost their patience for long-term structural reform. Many people simply want to relive in the “good old days” and support the past regimes in exchange for a more secured economic environment. In some countries, such as my own, the democratic formalities still exist, the substance is otherwise.
The issues associated with globalization require more regional and international cooperation, as none of us can cope with the challenges alone. We must stay in solidarity. Together we will consolidate democracy domestically, regionally and globally. We should bear heavier responsibilities to share the experiences of good governance in moving forward our common objectives.
The young democracies should not go against each other. Rather, we need to work together to meet the challenges of the anti-democratic forces. We also need to support each other to suppress the temptation of some people to welcome back the past. We know quite well what the old regimes in new faces are capable of: painting an unreal economic picture, then depriving the people some fundamental rights, and in the end the fruits of growth are only in the hands of the powerful few.
Successful Stories to be Noticed
Nevertheless, we should never be discouraged by the setbacks or the challenges, as successful stories are still evolving. I am particularly happy to see the launch of political transition in Burma. This is the result of the effort made by the people with strong international support. I also notice that the Philippine liberal leadership has demonstrated their determination for good governance by launching political reform.
Your sister party in Taiwan, the DPP, has now received more popular support than the governing KMT in nation-wide public opinion polls. The localities in which the DPP governs have also been recognized to have out-performed their peers. We are confident that we will gain more ground in the elections next year. The DPP is ready to shoulder more responsibilities
New Challenges Ahead
There are still new challenges ahead of us, including over-development, pollution, ecological damages, and ever more natural disasters caused by the climate change. We should come to the awareness that growth rate is not the only figure that matters; sustainability should be our prime consideration. In this regard, the experience of some of our European partners can illuminate our path to development. We also need to adopt a policy to help revitalize the private sector and to create an environment friendly to small and medium enterprises. In my view, we should always remind ourselves the objectives of CALD and ask ourselves the key question: have we done enough to win the support of the people?
Strengthening a Democratic Alliance
In my trip to Tokyo earlier this year, I proposed to form a democratic alliance among Asian democracies to safeguard our value and our common interest. The DPP advocates peaceful resolution through diplomatic consultation to end disputes in East and South China Seas. Taiwan can and should serve as a regional leader in promoting peace in the contested areas. And fellow democracies in the region should work together, based on our belief in the universal value, to overcome the challenges brought by the regional strategic dynamics.
Here I would also like to repeat what I delivered in my trip to Washington, D.C. in June: responsibility, reconciliation and rebalance. The DPP is committed to its responsibilities for the future of Taiwan, is willing to reconcile through dialogues as a means to normalize cross-strait relations, and desires to be a responsible partner of fellow democracies in the Asia Pacific.
My dear CALD colleagues, we have built a solid foundation of a democratic alliance among the Asian liberal and democratic parties. We need to stand firmly together, in power or in opposition, to repel the threats to democracy, and to promote our core value, freedom and democracy, in the region and throughout the rest of the world.
The DPP enjoys the benefits of the international network provided by CALD and LI. They are crucial to Taiwan, for our international space has been limited. I would like to take this opportunity to extend to you our appreciation for your support all these years, in all issues.
I look forward to the next twenty years of CALD.
Thank you very much.