BALI, INDONESIA—Representatives from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) engaged in conversations addressing election challenges across the Asian region at the 2023 Bali Civil Society and Media Forum (BCSMF) held on November 28-29, in Indonesia.
Alongside various civil society organizations, policy institutes, academics, and communicators, BARMM delegates, including the Bangsamoro Information Office (BIO), Bangsamoro Free Election Movement (BFEM), iMINDS Philippines, and United Voices for Peace Network (UVPN), Inc., were present in the forum.
Co-organized by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) and Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the forum delved into the current regional situation, seeking collaborative actions to fortify democracy.
The discussion focused on ensuring election integrity in the digital age, enhancing women and youth participation in strengthening democracy, and fostering multi-stakeholder partnerships for open and inclusive governance, all under the theme “Can Election Rejuvenate Democracy?”
Naomi Barnard, WFD Senior Programmes Manager for Asia-Pacific and Americas, emphasized the forum’s role as a safe space within Asia for sharing common challenges and successes.
She highlighted the significance of reflecting on the broader aspects of election integrity beyond the voting process.
“This year’s theme is reflective of the fact that there are many elections in Asia, including the first Bangsamoro parliamentarian elections in 2025,” Barnard pointed out.
“There’s a real opportunity to come and share your (BARMM) experience of developing plans around that election, but also to hear from other people from the region, whether from the media, civil society organizations, election bodies, and how they experienced elections across the region,” she added.
She said the WFD hopes to continue working with all stakeholders and supporting BARMM democracy.
Meanwhile, WFD’s Chief Executive Officer Anthony Smith underscored the need to address global election challenges collaboratively.
Underscoring the different challenges that the globe has encountered for the past years, Smith said, “We have come to partnering this forum with you [because] we know that this forum and these discussions are the type of events that help us address these challenges […] we know that we need to learn from each other.”
The Adviser to the Minister on Management of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, Acep Somantri, emphasized that the election process should promote democratic practices, not undermine them.
Panelists included Hasyim Asy’ari (Chair, Indonesia General Election Commission), Wong Shu Qi (Member of Parliament for Kluang & Deputy Political Education Director of Democratic Action Party, Malaysia), Kulachada Chaipipat (Advisor/Editor, Cofact, Thailand), and Bambang Harymurti (Senior Journalist, Tempo Media, Indonesia).
The WFD’s work in the Bangsamoro is supported by the UK Government through the Conflict, Stability, and Security Fund (CSSF) Project. (Aisah Abas/BIO)