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PSPD  l  People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

  • Archive
  • 2003.11.08
  • 1137
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Yeara Park

International Solidarity, PSPD

People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) and Forum-Asia opened September 2002 with "International Workshop on Civil Society Building Democracy and Good Governance through Election in Asia", sponsored by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and The Korean NGO Weekly-Citizens Times. Five foreign speakers were invited from the Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Japan. On the 1st of September, Rev. Sang Jung Park, one of PSPD’s three co-representatives, and the Center for National Assembly Watch of PSPD invited the foreign participants to a traditional Korean dinner as a welcoming reception.

The five foreign speakers were

-Sakool Zuesongdham, Open Forum for Democracy Foundation (Thailand)

-Damaso Magbual, National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (The Philippines)

-Subodh Pyakurel, Informal Sector Service Centre (Nepal)

-Kingsley Rodrigo, People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (Sri Lanka)

-Shuji Imamoto, Osaka University and Political Forum on the Internet (Japan)

The four Korean speakers and panels were

-Ki-hyun Kim, YMCA Korea

-Kisik Kim, PSPD

-Bang-sik Choi, The Korean NGO Weekly (panelist–session 2)

-Taeho Lee, PSPD

More than 70 people participated as audience: students at Sungkonghoe University, academics majoring in the politics of Asia, activists from the PSPD and other organizations, and the media.

The workshop was composed of three sessions:

Session 1 Elections Monitoring: Saving Democracy from Power and Money - The Role of Civil Society to Secure Fair and Free Election (Case study of each participating country)

Session 2 Elections Participation: Civil Society Challenges for Political Reform - New Challenges of Civil Society to Extend Democracy (Blacklisting Campaign, Non-Partisan Candidates, etc.)

Session 3 Round Table Discussion - Solidarity and Vision

In the first session each participant, who is an expert activist in their own field and country, shared their different situations and experiences of election monitoring. Elections are one of the crucial means for democracy as the word itself tells us: Democracy, derived from Greek words demo (people) and kratos (rule), is the rule of the people. Securing free and fair elections is, thus, a prerequisite to building a democratic society. Monitoring all the processes of elections relates specifically to voter registration, candidates’ campaigns, the influence of money and the media, poll watching on the election day, review and amendment of election laws, etc. All participants, however, agreed upon the fact that monitoring elections should continue on to the monitoring of how the result of the election is carried on for good governance.

In the second session, speakers moved on to the challenges they meet and the trials-and-errors and successes they make for political reform. Topics discussed were: evaluating candidates, various campaigns to raise public awareness, cooperation between national election committees and election-monitoring NGOs, ways to increase voting rates, more and more devious means used for corruption, and civil society’s active participation in politics by becoming candidates. Democracy-advocating NGO’s difficulties in fundraising was also included in the topics.

At the round table discussion, participants shared their overall concerns and visions. Though each Asian country has different concerns, it was clear that they can build stronger solidarity for democracy in Asia by participating in each other’s election monitoring, seminars and workshops, research, and other activities. This kind of solidarity, consequently, will help building better democracy in Asia. In this sense, this workshop was a precious opportunity providing a picture of the current stage of democracy in various regions in Asia. Participants learned from each other and brought insightful motives back to share again in their own regions.

After the three sessions, the foreign participants made visitations to the National Assembly, Korean Democratic Labor Party, and PSPD offices. The participants were impressed by the dynamism in Korean civil society and its efforts to make positive changes.

all.docthe material is in English and partly in Korean.


Park Yeara
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