Every year the Friedrich Naumann Foundation selects talented people from all over the world to attend one of the training seminars of the International Academy for Leadership (IAF), located in the small town of Gummersbach in Germany.
The aim of the academy is to provide a forum for leaders of the foundation’s partner organisations worldwide to share experiences in promoting freedom and liberal values from their respective countries.
In many of FNF’s project countries, former participants to the IAF set up alumni groups that help to create multiplier effects of the lessons learnt during the time in Gummersbach. Founded in 2006, the Alumni group in Malaysia has become one of the success stories among the IAF alumni groups. Meanwhile, over 90 participants from various backgrounds of politics, economy and society attended one of the seminars in Germany and the network is continuously growing.
With support of the foundation, the Malaysian IAF alumni have organised a large number of replication seminars and workshops tailored to the national context. Photo exhibitions and cartoon drawing competitions were organised of which the most outstanding contributions were published in the yearly FAN Malaysia Calendar.
Recently, two alumni meetings were held in Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Due to shifts in the FNF Malaysia project staff this was the first time the alumni gathered in 2012. They were updated about the work of FNF worldwide and had the chance to exchange views and opinions on current national, regional and international developments. Furthermore, participants were encouraged to suggest creative activities and approaches that help to continuously promote freedom and democracy for all Malaysian people.
The political situation in Malaysia is tense, especially with regard to the elections anticipated in the coming weeks or months. The ruling coalition is often criticized by oppositional powers and for restricting basic human rights especially those related to the freedom of assembly and the freedom of expression as well as for a lack of transparency in the electoral process.
An open dialogue between representatives of government and opposition parties is rare which is why forums like the IAF alumni groups are crucial with regard to mutual understanding and for overcoming political deadlocks.
We hope that the FAN Alumni members will continue to grow in the future and look forward to some exciting events and activities to promote freedom and democracy in Malaysia.