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Closing address by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha Chairman of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats , at the Conference on Pluralism and Development In Asia: Issues and Prospects – 6th November 2011

First and foremost, my thanks to all those who have made this Congress one of our most memorable. First, to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, and our friends who have contributed much to CALD since they were first involved in our work, and who have done even more after they took up membership. I must also pay special tribute to Dr Rainer Adam, not only for his stewardship currently of the Regional Office of the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung that works with CALD, but also for his seminal work while he was in Indonesia to support political parties as they strove to restore democracy. I was sorry when he left India where he briefly headed the South Asia Regional Office, but our loss was Indonesia’s gain, and now that of the Region, for he truly manifests the spirit of pluralism and equitable development which is essential throughout Asia.

My thanks also to the FNS representative in Manila, Jules Maaten, who has fitted in so well with our work as well as the country and the region. He has of course been helped by superb office staff in Manila. The CALD Secretariat has done a fantastic job as usual, and this is the more remarkable in that they have had a very full year, which will have encompassed 8 very significant events before it concludes. Unfortunately I cannot take credit for any of this, but as Chairman I shall certainly encourage appreciation of the fact that this has I think been CALD’s most active year since its inception.

I must also thank Liberal International, and in particular its indefatigable President and its equally energetic Secretary General, for their support throughout the year, not only for the Liberal International Congress in Manila, but also for ensuring a memorable ceremony to award the Liberal International Prize for Freedom to my predecessor as Chair, Dr Chee Soon Juan. Let me also thank Neric Acosta, our Secretary General, who has been a rock of support now to three Chairs of CALD. I can and will take credit for noting, in encouraging the Singapore Democrat Party to take up the CALD Chair when its turn came, that they could appoint a Secretary General from elsewhere. Sadly, being translated to higher things now – if there be anything higher than CALD – Neric will not be available for this in the future, but we cannot, for the sake of CALD, allow the environment of the Philippines to suffer without his advice.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

November 2011
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