INDONESIA is confident the Bali Democracy Forum has made a positive contribution to the region, even though studies have yet to be made to determine if the international congress has helped to advance democratic values and principles.
That was the message of President Dato Seri Laila Utama Dr Hj Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in his keynote address at the opening of the fifth Bali Democracy Forum yesterday.
"These are not just outcome documents, they are also testimonies to the increasingly shared commitment of countries in the Asia-Pacific to democracy," he said, at the Bali International Convention Centre's Nusa Indah Hall.
Yudhoyono added: "Every year we express our determination, and every year we re-affirm our commitment to democratic values and principles."
The president also said that when the forum was inaugurated in 2008, three heads of state or government and representatives from 40 countries attended, whereas this year, 11 heads of state or government attended and representatives from 80 countries.
"I believe that such growing participation means that the forum is serving its basic purpose of sharing experiences and best practices in democracy. We have learned a lot from one another, and mutually reinforced our commitments to democracy," he said.
Yudhoyono also said that in the last five years, member nations had done something substantial through the forum towards promoting democracy and political development in the region.
Co-chair South Korean President Lee Myung-bak reiterated President Yudhoyono's confidence in the forum's success over the years, saying that Asia was making "vigorous progress" towards building more mature democracies.
"According to the Freedom in the World 2012 Report, the Asia-Pacific is the only region in the world that has witnessed a steady rise in political rights and civil liberties over the past five years," Lee said.
The South Korean president added that Myanmar, which was "rapidly forging ahead" in terms of democratisation, was a prime example. He said that discussions held with Myanmar's President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had reaffirmed his belief that Myanmar would be able to achieve rapid economic development on the strength of democratisation in years to come.
Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is also co-chairing the forum, said she had borne witness to the success of democracy in Asia.
Referring to Yudhoyono, Gillard said: "The experience of your own nation and that of many others has shown us that the practices and values of democracy can be applied in this region. This is important for the rights of people.
GOH DE NO
The Brunei Times
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