The Sun: UndiMsia! strives to empower the young

Leading up to UndiMsia!’s September 16 fundraiser and launch, The Sun interviewed some of the event’s organizers to find out what its all about.

> Non-partisan movement targeted at youths between 18 and 35

PETALING JAYA: In the midst of their peers who are partisan towards selected political parties and friends who are apathetic about politics, is a group of youths who are interested in national issues but want to be non-partisan towards political parties.

Realising this, a group of 30 people started an initiative called UndiMsia! – a new voter education initiative targeted at youth between 18 to 35. Their emphasis is on citizen empowerment before and after balloting. The movement aims to promote and enhance greater participation by young Malaysians in the country’s democratic process. In an interview with theSun, Juana Jaafar, spokesperson for UndiMsia! stressed that the initiative is a non-partisan citizens movement.

“These days it’s so hard to be non-partisan. In cyberspace, like on Twitter for example, if you don’t take sides, you’ll be whacked. It’s not popular to be non-partisan these days. We are circumventing the mud slinging and going straight to the issues. We are not affiliated with any group. We work with anyone who supports our work and initiatives,” she said.

UndiMsia! which moves online and on the ground provides tools and workable solutions to problems that matter to the younger generation and their surrounding communities.

“We want to promote greater participation by young Malaysians in decisions that affect them, and assist them in asking the right questions to make informed choices when they vote,” she said.

The group also started a pilot project in Hulu Langat. “Hulu Langat is an interesting constituency because it’s a suburb, yet a littlerural, so it was interesting to get feedback from the people there.” Juana said.

“We met the elected representatives and spoke to several people on the ground, we brainstormed with them and we learned a lot,” she said. Juana explained that since this is the first year for this initiative, it will focus on three core areas – socio-economic rights in relation to food and housing; civil and political rights with regards to freedom of expression, and on understanding the national budget.

She added that UndiMsia! plans to mobilise the younger generation to take action through the development of Youth Action Groups (YAGs) in their communities.

Another spokesperson for UndiMsia! June Low, who was also present during the interview said some 20 celebrities were roped in to create awareness about UndiMsia! and spread the word about its charity dinner this Friday.

Low explained that over a few weeks, the group introduced candidates who comprise celebrities and civil society activists for the “Tasty Title.” These candidates have been voted in through the UndiMsia! Facebook page and are given an opportunity to present their ideas, views, and vision for a better Malaysia.

The final eight remaining candidates will go on to compete in the grand finals on Malaysia Day (Friday Sept 16).

The charity dinner on Friday will also have other celebrities like Mano Maniam and Chew Kin Wah at Leonardo’s Wine Loft. Tickets cost RM 150 each and include dinner, performances, a booklet and “your pledge of support.”

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This article was originally published by The Sun on 13 September 2011. Click here to view original.

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