About Asia Liberty Forum

The Asia Liberty Forum brings together friends of the freedom movement across Asia to discuss challenges facing the region and to learn from one another how to most effectively advance free-market reforms. Atlas Network's Asia Liberty Forum 2019 is co-hosted by Advocata Institute in Sri Lanka.

Featured Speakers

Prof. Pratap Bhanu Mehta

Vice-Chancellor, Ashoka University, Ph.D. Princeton University, India

Dr. Ross McCleod

Adjunct Associate Professor, Indonesia Project, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific

Nighat Dad 

Director, Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan

Prof. Razeen Sally

Professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Supinya Klangnorong

Honorary Council Member, the National Press Council of Thailand

Prof. Rohan Samarajiva

Chair, ICTA Sri Lanka and LirneAsia, Sri Lanka

Director, Research Fellow, IDFC Institute, Mumbai, India

Ma Junjie 

Acting Director, Unirule Insitute of Economics, China

Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja

Executive Director, Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies, Sri Lanka

Dr. Tom G. Palmer

Executive Vice President for International Programs, Atlas Network, United States

Anthea Haryoko

Head of External Relations, Center for Indonesian Policy Studies, Indonesia

Nalaka Gunawardene

Science Writer, Journalist and Development Communication Specialist, Sri Lanka

The Schedule

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Day 01 full schedule

February 28, 2019


Speed Networking

An Atlas Network tradition! We’re kicking off the event by a networking session where you get to meet and interact with other think tank members and leaders from across Asia and the globe.

Welcome Remarks

Brad Lips (Atlas Network, USA)
Prof. Razeen Sally (National University of Singapore and Advisor - Advocata Institute, Sri Lanka)

Cornerstone Talks

This is the first session of the Asia Liberty Forum that will begin the discussion on liberty in Asia. The objective of this session is to set the tone to inspire a broader range of discussions on economic freedom, as the day progresses.

Moderator: Casey Pifer (Atlas Network, USA)
Tom Palmer (Atlas Network, USA) on "Doing Development Differently"
Dhananath Fernando (Advocata Institute, Sri Lanka)
Roy Spencer (Conscious Capitalism, USA) on "Elevating humanity through business"
Bryan Cheang (Adam Smith Center, Singapore)
Scott Kim (Teach North Korean Refugees, South Korea)

Concurrent Breakouts

A) Amplifying Your Message

Join us for a discussion on how Atlas Network partners are reaching wider audiences in their respective regions and across the continent of Asia.

Moderator: Linda Edwards (Atlas Network, UK)
Basanta Adhikiri (Bikalpa, an Alternative, Nepal)
Anthea Haryoko (Center for Indonesian Policy Studies, Indonesia)
Khaliun Chimeddorj (Silk Road Foundation, Mongolia)

B) Fast Tracking Courts and Enforcing Contracts

Governance and legal experts will host a discussion on the importance of fast tracking our courts and enforcing contracts in this part of the world.

Moderator: Dr. Tom Palmer (Atlas Network, USA)
Prashant Narang (Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India)
Laurence Todd (IDEAS, Malaysia)
Ma Junjie (ENC Centre for Global Affairs, China)

Luncheon: The Future of Capitalism and Freedom in Asia

In his 1962 book “Capitalism and Freedom” economist Milton Friedman argued that economic freedom as both a necessary and vital means for political freedom. Modern day Asia puts these ideas to the test. With an american-led influence waning in the region in favour of regional powers, What does it mean for liberal democratic institutions and free markets in Asia?

We’re hosting an all-star luncheon discussion with Prof. Razeen Sally (National University of Singapore, Singapore), Prof. Pratap Bhanu Mehta (Vice-Chancellor at Ashoka University, India), and Fraser Howie (Author and Independent Analyst, Singapore), Dr. Christer Ljungwall (ENC Center for Global Affairs, Sweden) and Dr. Ganeshan Wignaraja (Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies, Sri Lanka) on the topic of the Future of Capitalism and Freedom in Asia.

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Crowdsource Liberty

Too often, conferences ask you to sit down and stay quiet. Not here! You are invited to speak up and exchange ideas where presenters are ready to discuss projects under development to advance liberty. Play an active role in sharpening their plans to make a difference!

Concurrent Breakouts

A) Fundraising Workshop

Facilitators: Luis Miranda (Centre for Civil Society, India) and Dr. Lyall Swim (Atlas Network, USA)

B) Think Tank Impact: Removing Barriers to Entrepreneurship

Join us for a panel on the institutional barriers to entrepreneurship within the continent of Asia and what can be done to improve the situation for individuals doing business.

Moderator: Matt Warner (Atlas Network, USA)
Aira Azhari (Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs - IDEAS, Malaysia)
Robin Sitoula (Samriddhi Foundation, Nepal)

Public Event - Are we afraid of opening up

Moderator: Nisthar Cassim (Editor, Daily FT Sri Lanka)
Prof. Rohan Samarajiva (Chair, ICTA Sri Lanka and LirneAsia)
Lakshman Athukorala (Adviser, Chartered Accountants Association)
Dr. Charitha Herath (Former Secretary of the Ministry of Mass Media and Information, Sri Lanka)
Chandi Dharmaratne (Board Director, SLASSCOM and Board Director, AMCHAM, Sri Lanka)


Asia Liberty Awards Dinner

Modern authoritarianism have moved beyond the Orwellian dystopia most fear. Modern authoritarians have new instruments of state power to encroach on personal liberties. We are asked to make a grand bargain between liberty for technocratic efficiency. Should we? Join as one of India’s foremost public intellectuals explores this topic in his keynote at the Asia Liberty

Master of Ceremonies:
Brad Lips (Atlas Network, USA)
Keynote Speaker:
Prof. Pratap Bhanu Mehta (Vice-Chancellor at Ashoka University, Ph.D. Princeton University)

Day 02 full schedule

March 1, 2019

CEO & Board Member Breakfast (by invite only)

General Breakfast

Charting a Course for Economic Freedom in Asia

Many Asian partners of Atlas Network are seeking economic reforms that improve the landscape for enterprise in their respective communities. Listen to the experiences of three think tanks that are actively advancing economic liberty across Asia.

Interviewer: Casey Pifer (Atlas Network, USA)
Deane Jayamanne (Advocata Institute, Sri Lanka)
Rainer Heufers (Center for Indonesia Policy Studies, Indonesia)
Mirsuljan Namazaliev (Central Asian Free Market Institute, Kyrgyz Republic)

Concurrent Breakouts

A) Tipping Points: A Model for Social Change

Atlas Network’s Lyall Swim will interview a panel of victorious think tankers and hear how they created tipping points in the context of an innovation diffusion model

Facilitator: Dr. Lyall Swim (Atlas Network, USA)
Parth Shah (Centre for Civil Society, India)
Mohammad Khalid Ramizy (Afghanistan Economic and Legal Studies Organization, Afghanistan)

B) Monopolies on the Internet

The acronym FAAMG stands for America’s most powerful technology companies: Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google. Not long ago loved and celebrated for their innovative and liberating role, the narrative has changed. Now the focus is on the potential threats the Silicon Valley giants pose to markets, democratic processes and the integrity of elections. This panel aims to discuss the topic from an Asian perspective and present liberal proposals how best to preserve competition, innovation, privacy rights and open access in an increasingly digital environment.

Moderator: Smitha Krishna Prasad (Centre for Communication Governance at National Law University, India)
Nalaka Gunawardene (Sri Lanka)
Smriti Parsheera (National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, India)
Nikhil Pahwa (MediaNama, India)

Think Tank Shark Tank Luncheon

Watch live as think tank leaders pitch their project ideas to a panel of judges!

Master of Ceremonies: Matt Warner (Atlas Network, USA)
Luis Miranda (India)
Razeen Sally (Singapore)
Linda Whetstone (UK)
Ronald Meinardus (India)
Anarkali Moonesinghe (Sri Lanka)

Contestants: Anthea Haryoko (Center for Indonesian Policy Studies, Indonesia) • Louis Houlbrooke (New Zealand Taxpayers' Union, New Zealand) • Nitesh Anand (Centre for Civil Society, India)

Concurrent Breakouts

A) Challenges to Privacy in the Digital World

We generate huge amounts of data at an ever increasing speed on more and more devices. This data is of great value to both governments and private businesses who enable and control the networks. Digital innovations have improved the way we communicate in a dramatic fashion; they have also enabled seemingly uncontrolled surveillance and collection of vast amounts of personal data. This poses a risk to our right to privacy. Panelists will give an overview of the legal and policy frameworks and discuss the challenges facing privacy advocacy. The panel aims at coming up with a liberal set of principles that define the responsibilities of the private sector, the role of governments and that of the citizens/consumers to protect personal data.

Moderator: Dr. Ronald Meinardus (Regional Director South Asia, FNF)
Nighat Dad (Director, Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan)
Smitha Krishna Prasad (Associate Director, Centre for Communication Governance, National Law, University, Delhi, India)
Supinya Klangnorong (Communications Policy Specialist, Thailand Honorary Council Member, the National Press Council of Thailand; Vice President, AMARC Asia-Pacific)

B) Currency depreciation and its consequences

The past few months have witnessed rapid currency depreciation across Asia, causing a significant amount of concern across economic sectors. What are the reasons behind these changes, what is their real impact on Asian economies and its people?
Moderator: Murtaza Jafferjee (CEO, JB Securities and Senior Fellow, Advocata Institute)
Dr. Ross McCleod (Associate Professor, Australian National University)
Dr. Cris Lingle (Professor of economics, Universidad Francisco Marroquín, Guatemala)
Dr. Ajay Shah (Professor, National Institute for Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi, India)

Concurrent Breakouts

A) Asia as a Land of Cities: Opportunities and Challenges

Many Asian countries vastly underestimate the levels of urbanization in their countries. Yet Cities are the engines of growth and prosperity. How can we embrace our urban future? What are the issues and challenges?

Moderator: Anushka Wijesinha (Global Future Council, World Economic Forum)
Pritika Hingorani (Director and Research Fellow at IDFC Institute, India)
Dr. Harsha de Silva (Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Sri Lanka)
Iromi Perera (Researcher and Activist, Sri Lanka)

B) Intellectual Property Rights for Innovation and Economic Growth. Where Does Southeast Asia stand?
(sponsored by Property Rights Alliance)

Lorenzo Montanari (Editor of the International Property Rights Index, Property Rights Alliance)
Philip Stevens (Geneva Network, UK)
Rainer Heufers (Center for Indonesia Policy Studies, Indonesia)

Public event - State of state enterprises in Sri Lanka

Advocata will be launching its flagship report ‘The State of State-Owned Enterprises 2019’ at the Asia Liberty Forum. This report expands on the material of the previous report, with focus directed on looking at the reasons for these losses to persist, and the ways in which SOEs have been used to further political or individual gain. Multiple levels of authority analysed through the lens of the principal-agent problem in this report highlights how incentives for personal gain drive the functioning of many SOEs. Given the size and number of SOEs; and their economic drain, the report pushes for immediate reform.

Moderator: Dr. Nishan de Mel (Executive Director, Verite Research, Sri Lanka)
Ravi Ratnasabapathy (Resident Fellow, Advocata Institute, Sri Lanka)
Suresh Shah (Director - Carson Cumberbatch PLC, Sri Lanka)
Thilan Wijesinghe (Chairman, National Agency for PPPs, Sri Lanka)
Dr. Malathy Knight (Consultant, Verite Research, Sri Lanka)

Get In Touch With Us

Dhananath - +94 77 508 0256

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