KUALA LUMPUR, June 12 ― A mock election is to be held today in 33 seats nationwide, with five political parties formed by youth participants organised by advocacy group Architects of Diversity Malaysia (AOD).
Speaking to Malay Mail, AOD co-founder and the programme’s director Jason Wee said the initiative, called Hackathon Politik, is a bid to reimagine if existing parties truly reflect voters’ beliefs and demands, and the need for politics to be more representative of the society.
“Hackathon Politik’s goal is to inspire a reimagination of Malaysian politics. Currently, we’re trapped in a cycle of identity politics that has stymied better politics based on policies and principles.
“We are essentially challenging youth by asking them, what kind of political party can you create for all of Malaysia?” Wee told Malay Mail.
Wee said that in order to join the initiative, participants have to go through a series of mandatory workshops to have a better understanding of Malaysian electorate and public policy.
“The workshop was to equip participants with a better understanding of the Malaysian electorate and public policy,” Wee said.
He listed speakers such as academic Bridget Welsh, economic analyst Lee Hwok-Aun and social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi, who spoke in the workshops about the challenges and limitations faced in today’s current political arena, and how new parties can improve policy-based politics.
Championing the lowering of voting age, co-founder of election advocacy group Undi18, Qyira Yusri, said that participants have so far displayed that political parties must move on from past populist rhetoric and move towards more evidence-based policymaking.
“I think Hackathon Politik itself won’t bring overnight change because it’s merely a simulation, but what’s important is its significance and the ideas that the candidates are bringing forward,” she said.
“Each of the parties has its own political stance on things, but what’s more interesting is that they are not very different ideological wise, however they are proposing a variety of solutions to tackle the problems.
“The debates on these solutions will be very interesting to watch, I think,” Qyira added.
After the workshops, participants had gone through a Dragons’ Den-like pitching session which was judged by lawmakers such as DAP MP Yeo Bee Yin and her PKR peer Fahmi Fadzil.
In it, the teams presented their strategies and policies, which were judged for their viability, innovative qualities, inclusiveness and potential impact.
The finalists parties are Parti Demokratik Rakyat Malaysia, PEKA, Parti Justicia, Konservatif-Revolusionis, and Parti Reformasi Malaysia.
Representatives from the parties went through a two-week campaigning period, and competed in three US Presidential-style debates defending their stances on various policies such as immigration, education and socio-economic development.
And finally, the finalists will compete tomorrow for the votes of Malaysians in 33 seats — with 30 of those recruited through an independent pollster to properly mirror the demographic of Malaysian voters.
Three more seats are open to the public, and those interested can register on Hackathon Politik’s website where they will be randomly divided into the constituencies.
Besides AOD and Undi18, Hackathon Malaysia is also supported by the Perdana Fellows Alumni Association and the Malaysian Students Global Alliance.