January 14, 2015 Print

Organized by Asia Centre for Enterprise (ACE) and Nepal-based Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation, the third annual Asia Liberty Forum in Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley was devoted to advancing liberty and markets in Asia. Atlas Network is proud to have been a sponsoring partner of Asia Liberty Forum 2015.

“Asia Liberty Forum has always humbled me with how it recharges everyone of us to survive the cold and harsh environments back where we all live and operate for freedom,” said Robin Sitoula, executive director of Samriddhi, as he welcomed the approximately 250 participants from more than 25 countries. “With Asia Liberty Forum being at this time in Nepal, we hope that we are beginning the discussion ‘beyond constitution.’” Nepal is currently amid dialogue in developing its constitution, and there is unlikely to be broad consensus on its disputed issues among all the parties. Sitoula encouraged the participants, especially those within the Nepali freedom movement, to focus “beyond constitution” instead, encouraging the next generation to embrace the ideas of entrepreneurialism and freedom.

Robin Sitoula, executive director of Nepal-based, Samriddhi – The Prosperity Foundation, welcomed the approximately 250 participants from more than 25 countries.

ACE, Centre for Civil Society (India) and Samriddhi together developed a video shown during the conference opening, highlighting the history of Asia’s freedom movement and touching on individual liberty, rule of law, right to property, minimum government, equal opportunity, freedom of conscience, self-governance, and moral accountability.

Much of the conference covered how to effectively engage the younger generation in the ideas of liberty. And Linda Whetstone, board member of Atlas Network (USA) and chair & CEO of Network for a Free Society (United Kingdom), delivered an opening-night talk summarizing the importance of inspiring youth with the idea that freedom is an infinitely better solution than government. Whetstone encouraged the crowd with examples of how organizations around the world are addressing this challenge.

“There is no room for complacency, but I hope this brief survey of the wonderful work very many people are doing will have enthused and inspired you all to go out with renewed vigor in your countries to ensure that freedom will flourish,” Whetstone said.

Linda Whetstone, Board member of Atlas Network (USA) and Chairman & CEO of Network for a Free Society (United Kingdom) delivered an opening-night talk that summarized the importance of inspiring the next generation of freedom champions.

Later during the conference, Whetstone had the honor of presenting the “Expressing Ideas for a Free Society” award — a creative competition held by Samriddhi for young participants — to Lopsang Dorje Lama, for his winning music video on Adam Smith. Immediately following the award, Lama delighted the audience with a live rendition of his song.

Dr. Ronald Meinardus, regional director of Friedrich Naumann Foundation South Asia and Linda Whetstone Board member of Atlas Network (USA) and Chairman & CEO of Network for a Free Society (United Kingdom) present Lopsang Dorje Lama of Nepal the first place award for the "Expressing Ideas for a Free Society" – A Creative Competition.

The Forum included more than 20 sessions on topics ranging from practical tools for institutional success, like “Strategies to Engage with Governments” and “Effective Board Management for Greater Outreach,” to inspirational explorations of freedom, like “Remembering the Lost Heroes of Liberty.”

Earlier this year, Atlas Network helped Asian think tanks in Malaysia, India, Vietnam, and Korea conduct market research to reveal the best way to message for liberty in order to reach the masses in their respective regions. During the conference, Daniel Anthony, vice president of marketing and communications for Atlas Network (USA), expanded on this work by presenting and chairing the “Messaging for Liberty” session. Anthony introduced Wan Saiful Wan Jan, chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Malaysia), and Baishali Bomjan, director of development and outreach at Centre for Civil Society (India).  Wan Saiful shared the challenges inherent in communicating the ideas of liberty within Malaysia because of that nation’s diverse racial and religious divisions. Bomjan shared how the public perception of certain terms can be altered from negative to positive when their underlying ideas are explained differently.

Breakout session on Messaging for Liberty. From left to right: Wan Saiful Wan Jan, chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs – IDEAS (Malaysia), Daniel Anthony, vice president of marketing and communications for Atlas Network (USA), and Baishali Bomjan, director of development and outreach at Centre for Civil Society (India).

A crowd favorite of Asia Liberty Forum 2015 was the Elevator Pitch competition. The participants of this year’s Think Tank Start-up Training presented compelling 60-second pitches to the audience, and this year’s first place winner was Kelly Dhru of Research Foundation for Governance (India).

Baladevan Rangaraju, founder director of India Institute (India) presents the Elevator Pitch Competition first place prize to Kelly Dhru of Research Foundation for Governance (India).

The closing Freedom Dinner ceremonies featured a Freedom Toast by Louis Lo, a democracy activist from Hong Hong.

“I joined the protests [in Hong Kong] because one day I can tell my children I stood up for democracy,” Lo said. “But a protest isn't enough. We now need to teach these students about the virtues of a free society.”


Louis Lo, Democracy Activist from Hong Hong, presents a Freedom Toast during Freedom Dinner.

As part of the Freedom Dinner, Dr. Bhola Nath Chalise was named this year’s Nepal Freedom Champion for his many years of tireless advocacy for the ideas of freedom and liberty within the Nepali government.

“Never before has private entrepreneurship and wealth creation caught the imagination of billions as it has done in Asia today,” Dr. Chalise said during the closing address. “Our job to promote freedom is filled with opportunities, and so many of you present here today are the beacons of hope.”

Dan Grossman, Chairman of the Board for Atlas Network (USA) presents Dr. Bhola Nath Chalise of Nepal this year’s Nepal Freedom Champion Award


Freedom Dinner closing ceremony live musical performance by Kutamba


Asia Liberty Forum 2015 was held at the Soaltee Crowne Plaza in Kathmandu, Nepal.

See more Asia Liberty Forum 2015 photos here.