Youth parliament empowers, gives voice to youth concerns
A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
In 2011, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the Malaysian Youth Parliament (PBM) would be among the six initiatives of the Youth Transformation Laboratory implemented by the Youth and Sports Ministry.
As a platform for youths to voice their opinions and address issues close to their hearts, PBM convened for the first time at the Dewan Rakyat which involved 133 delegates from January 10th till 11th 2015.
The Borneo Post SEEDS was fortunate to meet a member of PBM, Syed Nizamuddin Sayed Khassim from Kuching who was invited to give a talk during the Youth Leadership Programme organised by AZAM Sarawak in collaboration with Saberkas during the SCaT Fair last month.
“One of the issues that I highlighted during the Parliamentary sitting was the disparity of income and economy between West Malaysia and East Malaysia,” said Syed of the Millenium Development Gold report published by the United Nations (UN).
“This issue might not be highlighted by our leaders, but for the youths it is important,” said Syed, hoping that the issue could be addressed and action could be taken as he argued that West and East Malaysia are historically, politically and demographically different.
“One of the way of putting allocation for development is by looking at the number of population, where places with most number of population gets more funding. From one point of view, it’s fair, but if you look at it from another point of view, it’s unfair for Sabah and Sarawak because most of the population is in West Malaysia, so more funds would go there rather than East Malaysia. So, I think this issue needs to be addressed,” he added.
Unlike the actual Dewan Rakyat sitting, youth parliament members do not represent any parties. One member represents 100, 000 youths.
The advantage of the youth parliament is its role in addressing issues that are relevant to the youth but tends to be overlooked by the older generation.
“As a youth, we can see something they cannot see. So, that is when the youths came in, they must give this point of view and this point of view must be addressed by the government. So, that platform I believed has been utilised,” added Syed.
His interest in politics was sparked as a young child listening to his grandfather relating the history of Sarawak from the Brooke era until the formation of Malaysia.
Later, when he entered secondary school, his interest was heightened when he discovered the Lincoln Youth Corner in the state library.
“The Lincoln Youth Corner has a lot of books about leadership and history about politics. So, there are figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr and they inspired me to do things for the society and for the country,” said Syed.
His campaigning period was not an easy path for Syed. For him, one of the biggest challenges was to explain what Youth Parliament was about to the public and get people to register in the voting system.
During campaigning, Syed mainly used social media as his campaigning medium as well as meeting with people. His focus groups were Sarawakian youth working or based in West Malaysia. Among the youth groups that he met while campaigning was student organisation, SITOK (Student Integration of Kenyalang) UiTM based in Shah Alam.
According to Syed, one of the main issues faced by the Sarawakian youth based in West Malaysia was the high level of competition.
“For some of them who are born and bred in Sarawak, being thrown in this competitive environment gave them a culture shock. So they need a platform where there are motivators where they need to develop themselves in order to face the competitive level outside,” said Syed.
Also present during the Youth Leadership Program were Nurwynie Sharmiza Nawawi and Issac Lee from Kuching.
As the only female elected member from Sarawak, Nurwynie said it was important for women to be strong, be united with each other and stand up for themselves when addressing issues to make sure that your opinion is heard as it is a male-dominated field.
“But of course, before addressing issues, it is important for you to do your homework and it has to be accompanied by facts,” she said during the group dynamic session for the Youth Leadership Programme.
The state is represented by 10 members; Issac Lee Mong Yann, Allan Siden Gramong, Nurwynie Sharmiza Nawani and Syed Nizamuddin Sayed Khassim representing the Kuching division; Surai Anthony Abell from Sri Aman division; Matassan Rohani, Mohammad Fikri and Mohd Sufri Yakup from Miri division; Royston Valentine from Mukah division and Robert Jeno from the Kapit division.
The Youth Parliament representatives will for two years from October 2014 until 2016 and are elected through online public voting at www.parlimenbelia.gov.my.