“We all need more freedom”
With the hope to live, breathe and seize our lives in freedom, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom’s (FNF) Dhaka office organized a program for friends and partners to celebrate the Foundation’s 60 year anniversary.
Titled “60 Years for Freedom! Promoting Liberalism for a better society”, partners and friends, members of the German expat community and foremost alumni of the International Academy for Leadership (IAF) joined the festivity and shared stories and advice on how to strengthen the liberal network in Bangladesh.
“We are looking forward to celebrate freedom - an inalienable right of all citizens. Here and now we shall appreciate and respect the concept of freedom through discourse in various formats” said the moderator Roshni Shamim as she welcomed the guests.
“Our Foundation believes in individual freedom. Not brazen freedom, but freedom limited by responsibility,” said Dr. Najmul Hossain, Head of the Country Office Bangladesh.
Equality and Freedom
He highlighted the importance of economic freedom: “When a government or a society puts equality in the sense of equality of outcome ahead of freedom of choice, this – history teaches - does not work. This leads neither to equality nor to freedom.”
Regional Program Manager at the Regional Office, Frank Hoffmann, joined from New Delhi and gave an overview of the focal themes the Foundation deals with in South Asia. On a more basic note, Hoffmann said: “We all have our own agendas and dependencies, as we yearn to do things the way we deem right – if only we could. This is central to the idea of many liberal thinkers. I can’t think of any liberal who’d say give power to a neutral ruler. Instead they say, constrain power, hold people in positions of power accountable. Check power and balance it.”
During a panel discussion on “Good Governance, Digital Transformation and e-Commerce”, Dr. Md. Abdul Hakim, Director, Training, of Information Commission Bangladesh; Ahm Bazlur Rahman, CEO of the Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC) and Mr. Abdul Wahed Tomal, General Secretary of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) debated the challenges facing digital transformation in Bangladesh from a liberal perspective.
Newly appointed German Ambassador Peter Fahrenholtz graced the celebrations. “We all need more freedom!”, the senior diplomat exclaimed. Ambassador Fahrenholtz praised the Foundation’s work in Bangladesh highlighting the good work of the relatively small team amid budgetary constraints. He suggested the Foundation should allocate more resources to Bangladesh and – as he put it - “make the project bigger in the coming years”.