CLD Name: To change or not to change, that is the question

May 31, 2021 11:49 AM
By Merlene Emerson

CLD logoAt the EGM held on 30 May 2021, attendees had a good discussion on the relative merits of retaining the name 'Chinese Liberal Democrats' or changing it to 'BESEA' or 'CESEA' Liberal Democrats.

Arguments for the change to BESEA was presented by the Chair Dr Yeow Poon. He said that the proposal arose following Covid 19 pandemic bringing with it a sharp rise in race-related hate crime against those of Chinese, East and SE Asian appearance due to xenophobia and Sinophobia . That was coupled with the younger generation increasingly identifying themselves either as 'British Chinese' or as 'East and SE Asians' rather than just as Chinese. CLD should therefore reach out to the diaspora communities to better represent their needs and concerns. Based on the CLD survey conducted prior to the EGM, BESEA LibDems was the most popular name chosen, over CESEA and CESA.

Merlene Emerson, put forward the case for retaining the name as not to risk losing the goodwill and name recognition of CLDs over the last 15 years. This was a point made to her even by our Patron, Sir Menzies Campbell. It is short and memorable as opposed to BESEA and CESEA LibDems which hardly roll off the tongue. In addition, as Treasurer of CLDs, there was good reason for retaining the name for administrative and operational reasons with regards to our various bank, online and social media accounts. There has also not been sufficient response received to date from say the Korean and Vietnamese communities that they would be attracted to joining us were we to change our name.

As with most motions, there is always an argument for a third way or a compromise. Linda Chung, co-founder of CLDs and former Councillor on Camden Council, postulated that we retain CLDs but add on a strong strap line that we are an inclusive organisation that represents people from the Chinese, East and SE Asian communities. She thought that retaining the word Chinese in the name was important (hence her preferred choice had been CESEA) as Chinese was her heritage and identity. The three considerations we should focus on are 1. Outreach 2. Identity and 3. Purpose. We have to make ourselves clear on those and our name and membership should reflect what we are about.

Other members including the first Liberal Councillor of Chinese heritage, David Nam, and Cllr Marguerita Morton shared their own journey and sense of identity, and how they were taught to blend in and be assimilated into their adoptive countries, Wales and England respectively. Newest executive member who has recently been co-opted, a former Parliamentary Candidate Victoria Collins of mixed Chinese heritage advised that CLDs should make it clear we welcome participation from people of all races. We do in fact have members who are White British, Asian Muslim as well as from other non-Chinese background. We all have a shared purpose of promoting liberal democracy to our communities and to better inform our party's policies on both domestic and foreign policy.

Unfortunately the meeting was not quorate under the Constitution, hence the motion was not voted on. Whilst the name Chinese Liberal Democrats will be retained, this will no doubt be a question that we will be likely to return to. In the meanwhile, it was agreed that the next step should be to conduct a Survey of people in the wider diaspora communities to better understand how we can represent them and to hold an event to bring everyone together.

CLDs would like to thank everyone who has participated in this exercise and please continue to watch this space.