KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 — A group of youth advocates who pushed to lower the voting and election contesting age to 18 are now running a campaign to educate and enhance political awareness among Malaysia’s millions of youth voters.
Called “UndiNegaraku”, its founders described the campaign as a socio-political, non-partisan activism movement that will be made up of their subsidiary groups in each state.
In short, UndiNegaraku aims to continue the successes of the UndiSabah and UndiSarawak campaigns and aims at creating a national identity not based on race or religion.
“The difference between this organisation and other youth organisations is since we implemented Undi18 we were very specific about the changes we wanted to make, in this instance lowering the voting age.
“UndiNegaraku aims to do the same but we want to attract newcomers to politics who haven’t decided where to affiliate themselves with to have a look at the landscape from a blank canvas without any prior affiliations or biasness,” said co-founder Tharma Pillai during a live panel discussion and launch on Facebook today.
“We want to build a successful national movement with many young figures who will become prominent in the future and hopefully have them contribute back to the platform. The big difference here is we’re not forming the organisation based on race or religion,” he said.
One of the panellists, Jason Wee co-founder of NGO Architects of Diversity said youth should think about UndiNegaraku as an alternative to join before joining any political party. He said political parties are not the best platforms for a newcomer to politics as they have set goals and agendas.
These agenda always surround religion, ethnicity, background and their goals are to be in power, Wee said.
He touted UndiNegaraku as a non-political party with the aim at changing the norms and typical notions on how or what a political party stands for and its core values and goals.
“You need to see the [political] landscape through multiple lenses so you can critically assess why you must believe in those values and what they truly stand for.
“Political parties’ goals are usually to gain power so you will only receive information to that effect. This is where this platform will be non-political and values-based and is not focused on one cause.
“So for those who are new or do not have a political ideology yet should join UndiNegaraku. Besides, many have been turned off from politics once they see how dirty it can be,” Wee added.
By establishing a network of state chapters across Malaysia, UndiNegaraku will provide youths with a unique avenue to learn about policy and activism from a non-partisan lens, and serves as encouragement for youths to actively participate in socio-politics at a local and national level.
“Hence, we are embarking on a mission to cultivate over 10,000 Malaysian democracy changemakers by 2023,” said Tharma.
To register, applicants can go to https://undinegaraku.com/ and be given tools to create their own educational content, bring awareness to issues that their specific state may be facing, or even approach their local state governments as youth representatives of their own communities.
“We will have one round of screening for members once they have read and disciplinary measures. No fees are needed hence we will have a round of training which will be an ongoing thing,” Tharma added.
Two weeks ago, the High Court in Kuching, Sarawak ruled that the government and Election Commission (EC) must take steps to implement Undi18 by the end of this year to enable Malaysians aged 18 to vote in the next elections instead of waiting until they turn 21.
High Court judicial commissioner Alexander Siew How Wai ruled that the EC and government had acted “illegally” and “irrationally” when they decided to delay the Undi18 implementation from the promised date of July 2021 to September 2022.
UndiNegaraku is open for all Malaysians aged between 15 and 35. Existing members of the Undi18 campaign, Tenaga Belia, MyHutan, Undi Sarawak, Undi Sabah and Undi Saksama have an automatic membership.