Statement on Liberal Views on Populism

We the liberals believe that populism is the promise of statemandated, unsustainable benefits to the broader population without consideration of the long-term costs and benefits. It relies on highly emotive statements. In fact, populism is counterproductive to general well-being and progress, as illustrated by the economic decline of the many countries that have pursued populist agendas. We are concerned that governments in Asia are turning away from the very policies that have promoted prosperity in many parts of the world. We are confident that people will reject populist policies once they understand the true costs associated with them. These costs include an increasing dependency on the state, weakening the rule of law, property rights and individual freedom. Populism also reduces the ability of individuals and local communities to make their own decisions, and undermines the competitiveness of businesses. Recent moves in Asia to subsidise food and fuel, and to transfer cash are all examples of populist policies that have done more harm than good. We are confident that if Asia commits itself to liberal values such as property rights and the rule of law - the region will prosper.

We therefore commit to:  Provide alternative liberal solutions to the real problems that give rise to populism, and educate about the benefits of liberal policies, using positive language and examples.  Provide public support to politicians, political parties, business groups and other stakeholders that support liberal solutions.  Expose the high costs in terms of money and disastrous end results of such policies  Educate politicians and students  Engage with the media to educate the public more widely  Engage and create strategic alliances with civil society  Meet on a regular basis to strengthen our network. The statement is promulgated by the delegates to the EFN Asia Conference 2012 on this 7th day of November, 2012, in Hong Kong.