LAST weekend, I attended the 10th year anniversary and reunion of the Konrad Adenauer School for Young Politicians (KASYP). More than 100 alumni participated during the event that was held last August 9-11 at Penang, Malaysia.
KASYP is a political training programme of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation with the goal to strengthen political parties and develop a cadre of accountable and responsible young political leaders in Asia. According to Rey Padit, programme manager of KAS Singapore, "Since its inception in 2010, the Konrad Adenauer School for Young Politicians (KASYP) has contributed greatly to the capacity building amongst young politicians in the region. At the same time, the family of KASYP alumni has grown close to 200 members dedicated to the idea of strengthening political parties in Asia with accountable and responsible young political leaders."
The event was also a great opportunity for me to re-connect with my batch mates from Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, and India.
My batch mates from the Philippines were Karen Villanueva (former mayor of Bais City), Atty. Maria Aurora Gonzales-Molina, Asec. Rhea Peñaflor (DSWD), and Jadey Vince Yupangco (ERC). Jadey and Rhea were not able to attend due to conflict of schedule.
Karen, Marie, and I also met the young Kasypers from the different regions in the Philippines. Most of them are active members of the CDYAP (youth wing of the Centrist Democratic Party) and are starting to really make their own in their respective careers.
The event was included a formal welcome dinner, opening program, political discussions on the current state of democracy, a team-building (called the Amazing Race Penang), and a gala dinner.
I also had time to catch up with Arun Singh Dhumal (India), and Arya Sahidullah (Indonesia) where we talked about the current status of democracy in our home countries. We all noticed and agreed that the media from the West sees our brand of democracy in a different light from the speakers that KAS invited. Although we cannot argue on how the West sees us, what we can do is to remind everyone that our local political context matters a lot.
Take the case of the Philippines, for example. After all the good things that President Duterte did to our country, like establishing the Bangsamoro government to address the peace and development issues in Southern Philippines, it is the war on drugs that has always been at the forefront of the discussions about the status of our democracy.
The status of democracy in Asia, overall, still needs a long way to become a reality. As long as we have challenges in building strong political parties, we cannot truly say that have achieved our goals in building good governance and molding accountable leaders.
What the Bangsamoro needs to do is to start taking stock of the issues that we need to tackle, then prioritize which is most important. We need to take a look at the offices that still need to be established, the audits that are as of yet unfinished, and see those things through. Our vision of a moral governance cannot start if we leave all of these things unaccounted for.
We also need to be able to move as one body, and to see a unified vision for the Bangsamoro. Although there are majority and minority parties in the Parliament, we cannot lose sight of the fact that we all want the same things. We all want safe, secure and thriving environments for our constituents. These things must unify us despite our differences.
Karen was able to express her view completely in her Facebook post, "Even in times of trauma, we try to maintain a sense of normality until we no longer can. That, my friends, is called surviving. Not healing. We never become whole again ... we are survivors. If you are here today... you are a survivor. But those of us who have made it thru hell and are still standing? We bear a different name: warriors." -- Lori Goodwin. The work for democracy will never be easy."
I was happy to be with my fellow Kasypers. We had a long work- weekend where we were able to bond and exchange ideas for the future. Now the hard work begins -- this time, we face our realities and start working for our people.