A non-partisan voting GUIDE FOR first-time / young voters: PART 7
You asked: What existing initiatives are out there that I can support as a politically active young Malaysian? How can I start my own initiatives to keep the nation building process in check?
Make a wishlist for your new Malaysia.
Before you can work on change, you'll first need to think about what change means to you. What do you want to see addressed in Malaysia? What do you want to see in neighbourhoods, the environment, and our education system? How do you think Malaysia could be better?
Make a list of policies, laws, and bills you'd like to see happen. It might help if you sort them out into three categories: completely new ideas, a list of what you'd like to see repealed, and amendments to existing laws.
For every issue on that list, research and see what is already being done.
Chances are, some of what is in your list is already actively being advocated for by existing collectives or NGOs. Want to abolish child marriage? Sisters In Islam has been working on that for years and could use support.
This goes for MPs too. Want to bring back local elections and vote for the mayor of Kuala Lumpur? This is something MP Maria Chin has brought up in one of her campaign promises. Interested in saving the Bukit Kiara Forest? MP Hannah Yeoh has advocated for it throughout GE14.
So look up your local NGOs and the promises elected MPs made while campaigning, contact them and find out what they need to support your shared issue together. And while you're at it, check out this website that tracks the progress of all the new government's manifesto promises, and make sure each MP don't forget these promises along the way!
Get to know the promises Malaysia has made to the world, and hold them accountable locally.
As a member of the United Nations, Malaysia is obligated to fulfill promises countries have made together to improve the state of the world. In fact, all countries are reviewed to see if they've kept their word, through processes like the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR), a mechanism to assess the human rights record of a UN country.
Malaysia both makes recommendations and receives them from other countries. Read 2018's Submission to the Universal Period Review for Malaysia.
Did you know Malaysia has ratified treaties like Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, albeit with some reservations. Malaysia also agreed to implement the Beijing Platform for Action? That means Malaysia has agreed to the world that they'll make these changes for us. It's up to us to hold our government accountable for that.
You can campaign for them to sign even more treaties and join the rest of the world in its global promises. There have even been cases in court where knowing Malaysia that signed a treaty can help make a case when local legislation falls short .
Drive up awareness on issues of your choice, maybe even start a collective!
If your priorities don't align with existing politicians and NGOs, don't talk yourself out of the circuit just yet. There's room to gather awareness and solidarity of the issue of your choice too, and to overlap movements in solidarity with each other.
A great example of this is Undi18. They wanted to advocate for the 1.5 million potential voters from 18-21, and urge parliament to consider amending Article 119(1) of the Federal Constitution to lower the minimum voting age from 21 to 18.
Hold events. Encourage dialogues. Free spaces.
Throw events to talk about the issues on your wishlist. Offer panelist discussions, share slideshows, hold workshops or festivals if you have to. Find some way to weave unpacking these issues as talking points into your event instead of making them the main focus.
And why not reconsider what 'public' events mean? Public spaces are spaces meant for all of us to take up and live in together. Have picnic talks in parks or teach something new outdoors. Use public spaces to make the Malaysia you want to see real.
Keep online spaces alive and thriving too.
It's super easy to start a web campaign of your own these days, to start discussions and even a movement around one hashtag or in reply to one tweet. So if you don't see the campaign you want, relish in designing your own online with friends. Amass a following and cultivate discussion around a cause of your choice so that it can get attention and consistent representation all the way to policy level.
Look for opportunities in the local news cycle.
Keep an eye for what makes your issues relevant in the local news. Have content and strategy plans parked instead of releasing them as soon as you have them. You will never know when the right time to shed awareness of an important issue is without first observing the local news cycle deeply.
While you're here, check out UndiMsia's roadmap to affecting change all the way to parliament level.