What’s in a name?

We conducted a survey recently on a proposed name change for Chinese Liberal Democrats. This initiative was partly spurred on by a rise in Covid19 anti-racism against people of Chinese and East Asian appearance. Singaporeans and South Koreans alike have suffered race hate attacks following the Covid19 pandemic. We would like to reach out to, represent and speak up for those communities too.

In addition, there has been a move over the last decade, particularly for those working in the arts and media to identify themselves as “East and SE Asian”, a term that has entered the lexicon.

Nevertheless some other members and supporters feel we will lose our goodwill and recognition built up over the last 15 years if we were to change our name.
Here are the results of the on-line survey:

51% would like to change our name, 30% said no, and 19% don’t know.

Given the choice of names offered in the survey, the most popular was BESEA (British, E & SE Asian) Liberal Democrats with 46%, followed by CESEA (Chinese E & SE Asian) with 23% and ESEA (East & SE Asian) with 15%.

Additional suggestions and comments made included:

  • Liberal Democrat Indo-Pacific Group or Liberal Democrat Asian Group (We are a primarily a political party and the Liberal Democrats need an entity which can focus on the main foreign policy challenge of our times.)
  • Chinese, covers anyone of Chinese heritage globally, but East & SE Asian, is more like saying Western European.
  • Shouldn’t include “chinese” as that would be redundant duplication.
  • As the wife of a non-Chinese Singaporean and the mother of a mixed heritage child as above I would like to see a name that reflects non-Chinese heritage British South East Asians. I’m really in two minds as to whether to include “British”
  • I think names should be simple and what people can remember and relate to.
  • Some sort of non-acronym name might expand your reach without losing it being clear what you’re about.

Next steps?

We will be calling an extraordinary general meeting at the end of the month and putting the question to the vote by current members. If you would like to have a say, please join us here before 30 May 2021.

* Merlene was co-founder of Chinese Liberal Democrats and on the executive of the LibDems Overseas. She co-edited “Rise of China – Fresh Insights and Observations” published by the Paddy Ashdown Forum (2021)

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  • “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet.”

    Whatever our Lib Dem friends and colleagues chose as a name, they will still be good Lib Dems and we will support them, just as they support us.

  • Humphrey Hawksley 18th May '21 - 7:46am

    The importance of this initiative by Merlene and others cannot be overemphasized. Whether anti-Asian hate crime, China’s human rights abuse or post-Brexit trade deals, Liberal Democrats need to formulate clear policy for this fast-changing region and be able to communicate it on the doorstep.

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