Kirsten Han –
The International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY) website states that the Singaporean government “is of a clear-cut authoritarian nature and controls its people like a modern day Big Brother.”1
Jarrod Luo, Honorary Secretary of the Young Democrats, thinks that many Singaporeans would be shocked by this assessment. “The people don’t know,” he says, explaining that due to the controlled state media’s selective reporting, many are unaware of how Singapore is actually perceived by the international community.
Jarrod was speaking to TOC at a private screening for a small group of invited guests as part of the first ever Liberal Solidarity Week. The event was hosted by the Young Democracts and held on the night of 22nd September 2010.
Initiated by the International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY), Liberal Solidarity Week takes place from the 20th – 26th of September. IFLRY aims to make it an annual event, dedicated to bringing together liberal youth from all over the world to stand in solidarity with those in authoritarian countries.
For Liberal Solidarity Week 2010, three countries under authoritarian control have been chosen to be the focus countries: Azerbaijan, Cuba and Singapore.
Three short films were shown at the private screening: a film on people with disabilities in the Filipino community entitled The Heart of SM: Understanding the Needs of People with Disabilities, a film on a prominent Singaporean political dissident now in exile and The Grandchildren of the Cuban Revolution, a film on Cuba and the growing discontent within the younger generation.
The night ended with a statement from Bart Woord, Secretary General of IFLRY. The statement had been specially recorded for Singapore during Liberal Solidarity Week.
Mr Woord highlighted the three key priorities of IFLRY: strengthening member organisations such as the Young Democrats, developing ideas and policies aimed at international problems such as free trade and climate change and reinforcing the concept of liberal solidarity.
“Liberal solidarity to us means to give additional support to those young people living in authoritarian countries, like yourselves,” he says.
The Young Democrats, who has been a member of IFLRY since 2002, has been celebrating Liberal Solidarity Week by publishing articles on the focus countries, as well as Burma, their own chosen focus country, on their Facebook page and their website.
Muhd Khalis, Program Director for the Young Democrats and coordinator of Liberal Solidarity Week in Singapore, says their goal is to show that “even as youth in an authoritarian society we are able to engage.”
Liberal Solidarity Week will culminate in the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) Pre-Election Rally at Hong Lim Park on Saturday, 25th September 2010. The Young Democrats will take center stage from 5pm to 6pm to talk about Liberal Solidarity Week.