On behalf of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the Government of Indonesia and the victims of Aceh earthquake. Our appreciation also goes to the Government of Indonesia for its warm welcome, generous hospitality and good arrangement made for this forum.
Firstly, let me underline that the Lao PDR attaches great importance to Bali Democracy Forum as one of the key platform for promoting democratic values across the world. With this in mind, Lao delegation has actively participated in this significant forum since its founding. I strongly believe that, under the theme of the 9th Bali Democracy Forum: “Religion, Democracy and Pluralism” this year, participating countries will deploy their utmost efforts to share their experiences and good practices of democracy and its linkage to religion harmony and freedom of pluralism and will finally come out with productive results.
The Lao delegation shares the view that religion, democracy and pluralism are all universal values based on the freely expressed will of the people to determine their own religious, political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives. There is no one world one religion or single model of democracy because democracy is the international norm which does not represent any religions, communities, countries nor regions, and political and religion faith.
Indeed, religion and democracy are common values for humankind. The underlying criteria to judge whether a country is democratic or not, is the responsibility of that country’s government towards its own people. True democracy should refer that the people is the own masters in its country. The political system reflects people’s will and represents people’s interests. Moreover in practicing the religion, once a particular country preserves a value of government of the people, by the people and for the people, it is truly considered as democratic regardless of any particular political system, party system or election system that country adopts.
Laos had experienced in uniting Lao multi-ethnic people in all religions across the country to fight against colonialism, striving for national independence and fundamental freedoms. Such struggle movement, the Lao Patriotic Front, recently known as the Lao Front for National Construction paid a significant role in propagandizing and persuading people of all ethnic groups and religions, even non-religious people to participate in the struggle for national and democratic revolution. Because of solidarity power of people in all religions, and social strata, the Lao people have triumphed the national democratic revolution and proclaimed the Lao’s People Democratic Republic on 2 December 1975.
As of today, the Lao Government attaches great importance to the rights and legitimate interests of specific groups in the country. The Lao PDR consist of totally 49 ethnic groups living in harmony; here they are pluralism such as diversity in cultural practices as well as belief of people around the country. The Lao National Constitution underscores on the article of religion issue that all Lao people enjoy their right to self-determination to believe and not to believe in any religion based on their preferences. In overall, the majority of Lao people believe in Buddhism, Animism and some other believes such as Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, among others. It can be said that freedom of religion or belief has always been protected in the Constitution and laws in the Lao PDR as well as in the day-to-day life.
In conclusion, the people’s democracy in Lao PDR further advances in keeping with the pace of socio-economic development. It will also maintain its nature and characteristics as it was born of the aspiration of people who want to be free and independent, to develop themselves and live in peace, as well as preserve their fine customs and traditions, generosity, caring, hospitality and tolerance. In addition, it guarantees the will of people to promote harmony and solidarity within the national community. This is a democracy which aims to neither divide social classes nor create social conflicts that would bring to societal destruction. In short, the people’s democratic regime of Lao PDR is strongly embraced and upheld by the people for it suites the specificity of their nation and fully serves their interests.
Finally, I wish this forum to complete with great success.
Thank you very much