Southeast and East Asia
The last decades the region has enjoyed an unprecedented economic upswing. More people have benefited from globalisation and escaped poverty than anywhere else. And thereby the political weight of the region in the world has thereby increased.
However, despite all this progress, the levels of democratic development and rule of law are patchy and there are many shortcomings. Out of the ten ASEAN member states (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) only Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines may be described as more or less developed democracies. The other countries still follow an authoritarian, undemocratic path of development in which conflicts are covered up or violently suppressed.
In Taiwan and South Korea, however, democracy has grown and taken root: they are convincing examples of the liberal development path. Whatever the problems, this much is clear: this is the region that is defining the shape of things to come. Many countries are in the throes of economic and political upheaval. These are times when new institutional frameworks are emerging.
Our Foundation sees great opportunities for contributing, together with our liberal partners, to the implementation of free and democratic frameworks in the countries of the region. The ASEAN organisation is steadily acquiring importance for the region‘s development. Its work should therefore pay more attention to the defence of human rights. Our Foundation organises discussions with major public figures in order to enshrine a regional human rights mechanism in the ASEAN Charter.
With the „Freedom Forum“ – an phone-in radio show aired on the morning programme of the Indonesian broadcast channel 68H and its 49 partner stations the Foundation and its partners managed to launch a successful country-wide discussion platform. The „Sisters in Islam“, from Malaysia, have been for many years partners of our Foundation. They stand up for a modern Islam respecting freedoms and promoting equal rights for women.
Prosperous and democratic South Korea is separated from communist North Korea by one of the few remaining Cold War frontlines. Through its activities fostering economic reforms the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom contributes to national development in North Korea.