Moving Malaysia #ForwardTogether
I read with great interest an article on #ForwardTogether by the Organisation for National Empowerment (ONE). I wholeheartedly agree with their call for the electorate to “vote for a party which you believe can take us ahead.” At a time of uncertainty, there is a need to understand the civic deficit involving young people, its consequences, and what we can do to address it.
Civic crisis among young people in Malaysia
The controversy surrounding the #UndiRosak movement is a reflection of the civic health in Malaysia. Young Malaysians are increasingly frustrated about the excessive political bickering among politicians from both sides of the divide while others have been turned off by politics. A recent Merdeka Centre poll commissioned by Watan (youth voter registration NGO) found 71% of young voters felt they have no influence on government. It is no surprise, then, that 65% of all unregistered voters are between 21 and 30 years old — a whopping 2.5 million. While I respect the proponents of #UndiRosak and their legitimate grievances, I disagree with their approach. Spoiling one’s vote, even to send a message to the politicians, is ineffective.
Lack of youth participation and vicious cycle of neglect
The reality is politicians respond to voters. When young people are disillusioned, they stay out of the political process. As a result, they don’t vote in elections in large numbers (or if they do, they spoil their votes). In turn, political parties make little effort to engage young people as there is little incentive to gain their votes. This creates a vicious cycle of neglect of young people. The consequences can be detrimental for the youth. In the United States, only half of the young eligible electorate participated in the last presidential election, culminating in the rise of President Donald Trump. In the Brexit referendum, close to half of young British voters chose to stay at home. In extreme cases, political parties have discounted young people altogether. In the Netherlands, the 50PLUS party caters solely to pensioners and doubled their votes and representatives recently due to the lack of youth participation. Young voters cannot afford to risk our country’s future as we will be living in it, not our older counterparts.
The young can make a difference through the ballot box
We should not underestimate our power as young voters because we have the numbers. In the last general election, it was estimated that first-time voters (including yours truly) made up one-fifth of the 13.3 million eligible voters. The young are a powerful voting bloc, and we can influence the outcome of the election. Our collective power can pressure politicians from both sides to address youth issues such as affordable housing, cost of living, and career opportunities. It is easy for us to feel detached and confused from the national political discourse, dominated by old personalities. Therefore, during the election, it is crucial that we focus on our local community. Personally, I make a decision between the competing candidates based on their personality and track record, not their political parties. It is crucial we carefully select our state assemblyperson (ADUN) and member of parliament (MP) for they will be responsible for our community. Whoever it is, when you are at the ballot box, make a decision — don’t waste it.
Despite the pessimism towards politics, we must remember our actions will have repercussions on our generation and future generations. Our country may not be a perfect democracy but it works. We have the room and space to make a difference as citizens. At times of uncertainty, we can appreciate responsible and balanced calls such as from ONE on #ForwardTogether for voters to make objective and well-informed decisions. In the words of American feminist Gloria Steinem, “Voting isn’t the most we can do. But it is the least.”
You can find this article on Free Malaysia Today at http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2018/02/24/moving-malaysia-forwardtogether/
Applying for Perdana Fellows Programme was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in life. Where or when would you ever get an opportunity to work for the Cabinet Ministers when you’re studying or right after you graduate? Perdana Fellows Programme is that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When I was successfully selected to be a Fellow, I did not get the Minister of my preference. For my policy essay, I had passionately written about fighting corruption but was selected under the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Dato’ Amar Douglas Uggah Embas. I didn’t even know that Ministry existed—betcha you didn’t know, too. But I had an open mind—you’ll need to have an open mind if you want to be a Fellow.
My Minister, Dato’ Amar Douglas—an experienced Iban leader from Sarawak took me with open arms. For the first few week initial weeks, fellow colleague and I shadowed the Minister by following him everywhere he went—meetings, officiating ceremonies, dinners, visiting agencies. During these times, you’ll get first-hand experience a day in a life of a Minister. It’s not easy to be a Minister: grueling daily schedule, pressure to perform, balancing between work and family and at times, needing to deal with unfair criticism. Being a Minister is a thankless job; nobody commends you for a job well done but rest assured, if you make a minor mistake, you’ll face an onslaught.
Once we were comfortable with the Minister and his office, we were given assignments ranging from handling corporate communication and assisting the ministry officials to organising motivational events for students. It’s never a dull day as a Perdana Fellow. If you don’t have any work to do, it’s up to you to make best of that time. As a Fellow, you’ll need to be able to add value to your Minister, Ministry and government. I was proud to do my small part, for example: assisting my ministry in growing my Ministry’s Facebook page from 299 likes to 5,800 likes; reviewing the National Commodities Policy; and co-organising the biggest Sarawakian event in Peninsular Malaysia. My Minister was very supportive of me and gave me room to freely contribute to him and his ministry.
Perdana Fellows Programme accelerated my personal and professional development. It put me in a place where I had to grow or suffer. As it was the first time programme was organised—I won’t lie—there were some issues affecting the Fellows generally (e.g. administrative, fitting in). We saw opportunity in these problems. We took our own initiative to address these issues by hold meetings among ourselves. Before the undergrad Fellows left, we independently formed the Perdana Fellows Alumni Association. Minister of Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin has been hands-on in assisting the Fellows—he really does take care of the Fellows. The Alumni is truly the second family for the Fellows as we go through similar experience. I’ve had the honour of serving as the president of Alumni—it’s not easy to manage a group of leaders of very diverse backgrounds! Even after the programme has ended some 4 months ago, we Fellows are still a tight bunch and we’re excited to welcome the 2nd batch to join our family.
So, what are you waiting for? Join the Perdana Fellows Programme at www.feloperdana.gov.my.
Parting Words to MASCA
(Taken from Facebook)
Today officially marks the end of life-changing and transformational experience in MASCA. My deepest gratitude and heart-felt thanks to Johan, Puteri, Syahir, Josephine, Hanan, Fang Xuan, Yuga, Danial, Ayeem, Fatin (Alyn), Aina, Arif, Ashman, Arlina, Anis, Juanita, Saachi and everyone who I’ve worked with in this memorable 2012/13 term – you know who you are! THANK YOU! Not to forget my comrades in MASCA Victoria 2011/2011 team, I remember you, thank you!
We worked very hard to transform MASCA into something that can bring meaning to the Malaysian student’s “Australia experience”. I fondly remember we were spending the summer of 2013 practically working full time on MASCA. Every day for more than 3 months was focused on building MASCA up. I think all the hard work, money, sleepless nights, tears, sweat and arguments had paid off. We have set many milestones during this term.
If I had to list 3 of my main achievements as National Deputy Chairperson, it’d be:
1. Democratising MASCA into a more egalitarian organisation allowing any student to join and contribute through the ‘MASCA National Executive Team (NET)’;
2. Laying the foundation to a more united community of student leaders by introducing the ‘Australian Network of Malaysian Student Leaders’ to unite over 40 Malaysian student bodies; and
3. Streamlining MASCA’s existing framework to ensure the National Council and its 7 State Chapters act and move as one unit through guidelines on office bearers’ roles and responsibilities and AGM guidelines.
As a team – especially the National Exco – we can lay back and be proud of what we’ve achieved:
1. Successfully revolutionised National Conference and Games (NCG) into the 1st Malaysian Summit of Australia (MASA) – a first-of-its-kind 5-component event attracting more than 500 students from across Australia and an impressive list of companies and speakers at one place at the same time!
2. More proactive in student advocacy issues and fundraising for charity. We collected 426 petition signatures on internships for M’sian & international medical students and presented to Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister. We raised $1,132.70 for the families of the Lahad Datu campaign.
3. Made significant progress on the much-talked aspiration of ‘national integration’ by integrating and involving council members across the 7 State Chapters in national events – 2nd MASCA Summit in Malaysia, 6th MASCA Australia Summit and 1st MASA.
4. Enhanced the MASCA brand, particularly amongst students. Our one-stop-centre website attracts over 100+ unique visitors. Our Facebook page went from 80+ on 1 Nov 2012 to 1,435 ‘likes’ today. Our Twitter went from 113 (1 Nov 2012) to 1,611 followers today.
5. Reached out to external third parties – closely worked with the Council of International Students Australia (CISA); initiated and drafting a Memorandum of Understanding with Kelab UMNO Australia (KUA) & related organisations; and engaged with UKEC and ICMS.
6. More regular engagements with MASCA council members, present and past! We held ‘#MASCAunite’ (lepak) sessions in KL for 4 weeks in a row! We also had dinner with the Founder of MASCA, Ek-Khai Tan!
7. Ensuring sustainability of MASCA by amending the Constitution to form a ‘MASCA Advisory Council (MAC)’ comprising of former council members and initiating plans to create a ‘MASCA Alumni’ for all former members (all the way back to 2001!) to be based in KL.
These are only some of the milestones we’ve achieved in a short time of 1 year. Of course, there is much more to be built on and we hand it over to the new team to bring MASCA to even greater heights! To the newly elected MASCA office bearers, congratulations to you and the start of your journey in MASCA. If you work hard for MASCA, MASCA will work hard for you – I guarantee you. I’m confident you will chart milestones in MASCA’s history under the leadership of Johan. I wish you all the best in your journey. Make us proud!
MASCA has been a defining phase of my life where I’ve gained a lot experience, built networks, received exposure and learned many lessons. As much I aspired to transform MASCA, that experience has transformed me to a better, stronger, wiser and a more confident person. MASCA was, is and will always be part of me. Thank you, MASCA.
By now, you'll realise I've been putting up many videos by TED. Admittedly, I'm a big fan.
I'll be attending TEDxKL 2013 this Saturday! Apparently, the tickets have sold out! I bought mine 2 days before it did. Thank God, phew! I'll be my first time attending a TED event, I'm stoked!
Here's some information on TEDxKL this year from http://www.tedxkl.com/:
Theme: Life Hacking
Life Hacking by definition would refer to any productivity trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method to increase productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life; in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem in a clever or non-obvious way. However, we are taking a slightly different approach to life hacking itself.
Though I only recognise one of all the speakers, Cheryl Tan (who has happens to be my high school senior), I'm more interested in what they have to say than who they are. TED has always been about ideas, so I'm excited to hear them.