More Visible, Digital, Innovative, Creative!
For four days in mid-April, Colombo became the heart and soul of the programs of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) in Asia. Some 35 delegates from all corners of the vast continent convened in the Sri Lankan capital for their pan-Asian meeting. The last internal continental conclave lies ten years back. In the meantime, the world – and particularly Asia – has seen dramatic changes.
The Foundation has reacted to this with a set of policies and, importantly, a new strategy for the work abroad. To take stock regarding the implementation of this strategy, exchange best practices and discuss synergies between South and East Asia was the overriding objective of the Colombo meet.
“This is the time for a new strategic orientation. We want to be more visible, more digital, more innovative, more creative”, said FNF CEO Steffen Saebisch.
Jointly organized by the Regional Offices for South Asia in New Delhi and South East and East Asia in Bangkok, the conference took place under the header “Time for Asia – Time for Freedom”.
“Asia’s role on the global map has increased dramatically”, said Regional Director South Asia Dr. Ronald Meinardus. “At the same time, we see worrying cases of abuse and rights violations, and these pose a challenge for liberals”, he added..
In their presentations, the country directors highlighted the innovative aspects of their work and that of their partners. On the South Asian side, the Virtual Police Station (VPS) from India, a three dimensional depiction of the Sri Lankan constitution and a podcast series promoting economic freedom in Pakistan stood out.
“We’re on the path toward realizing the vision of an entirely digital project”, said Regional Director Dr. Meinardus.
Synergies across Regions
In the meeting room and in the countless unofficial encounters on the sidelines, the colleagues developed ideas and concepts for new cross-border work. “We need more interregional cooperation”, stated CEO Saebisch in approval. First results of a brainstorming session on pan-Asian synergies will soon become visible. The offices in New Delhi and Bangkok have agreed to hold the next pan Asian conclave in Thailand early next year.
An important focal point for coordinating the Foundation’s digital projects is the Global Innovation Hub in Hong Kong. Armin Reinartz, the Head of the hub, is interested in including partners and stakeholders from South Asia in his programs.
Joining the Colombo Meeting was also Dr. Wolf-Dieter Zumpfort, who for the past decades has served the liberal cause on the Board of Directors of the Foundation. Like few others, he knows and supports our international work. “The Foundation would not be the same today without Dr. Zumpfort”, said CEO Saebisch in one of the many homages.
The delegates celebrated the retiree in multiple manners. For South Asia, Regional Director Dr. Meinardus presented the iconic #freedomclock to the senior official. And, then, both jointly exclaimed: “It’s always time for Freedom!”.