A post about the first-of-its-kind UndiMalaysia! campaign, which appeared in the Selangor Times, Issue 25, 20-22 May 2011.
We interrupt the usual Ask Lord Bobo Q&A to give you the answer to a question which all of you should be asking! After all, His Supreme Eminenceness is all-knowing, and therefore knows you want to ask this question even though you may not.
What is UndiMalaysia! (UM!)? (Question from Your Brain, via Lord Bobo Barnabus)
Lord Bobo will tell you the answer in four parts — why, what, how, and what now.
Malaysians complain a lot. Malaysians think that only politicians are able to solve our problems, and every fault lies with the politicians when we do not get what we want. This is wrong. We disempower ourselves when we think that only politicians can solve our problems. We complain, and complain, and complain some more that our complaints are not being acted on, but when it comes to actually doing something, we the complainants sit back, fold our arms and do nothing. We do not see that there is an alternative to blaming politicians — acting on our own, reclaiming our power, and making true grassroots democracy more of a reality than it is today. As has been said, “people should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people.”
The Malaysian political landscape is extremely polarised, and voters are forced to vote purely along party lines, or for personalities based on salacious and sensationalised issues (read: sex) rather than on properly analysed and advocated bread and butter election issues (read: food, housing, public transport, public service efficiency, human rights, and education). As such, our politicians are not required to address issues that affect local communities in a properly thought-out way, and most campaigning remains firmly stuck in gutter politics.
Generally, there are two types of Malaysian youth today — those extremely partisan towards a political party, and those so apathethic that the very thought of politics and civil society issues makes them sick. The former believe the answer lies in supporting and being part of a political party. The latter believe the solution is completely ignoring what is going on in the country. The former have an illusion of politics and political change. The latter are disillusioned with the Malaysian political scene as it stands.
Many voter registration initiatives have been started, and many youth have been registered. The efforts, and results, of these initiatives deserve to be celebrated — but it is only the first step. What is being done with the newly-registered voters? After registering, very few of them are being mobilised or activated. Why?
To empower and enable Malaysians to meaningfully exercise their right to vote, and to ensure that election results express the will of voters based on informed choices, the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights a.k.a. PusatRakyatLB (the Centre) will undertake a first-of-its-kind citizen education initiative, known as UndiMalaysia! The UndiMalaysia! initiative will be carried out on key election issues to equip Malaysians with the information they need to make informed choices when exercising their right to vote. Election candidates will be scrutinised on their performance, conduct, and pledges.
UndiMalaysia! should, if successful, lead to a larger social movement, and act as the “conscience” of the people at every election. The Centre will conduct this experimental initiative with the long-term goal of establishing a permanent voter education hub. UndiMalaysia! will mobilise and build a database of empowered youth as part of the “voter bank” to demand and sustain good practices for future elections. The voter population, particularly the younger generation, should be encouraged to make more informed choices at elections, and to ask fundamental questions which have often been forgotten by the electorate and politicians.
A sustained campaign for a number of years will in its course influence voter behaviour leading to positive changes in the way politicians handle elections. UndiMalaysia! will also result in a core peoples’ movement, which is able to take things in their own hands and be self-reliant.
The initiative consists of whatever floats your boat. We will reveal them as they are revealed. The prototype UndiMalaysia! pack will include infographics and a flagship workshop, targeted at both urban and rural settlements. We will also test our deliverables in one chosen Selangor Parliamentary constituency as if we are to “campaign” at that constituency to show the politicians how it ought to be done.
UndiMalaysia! will deal with a number of important issues of social relevance including poverty eradication, law and order, corruption, freedom of expression, managing the country’s resources, transparency in Government expenditure, and students’ and indigenous peoples’ rights. If it’s important to the rakyat, it’s important to us.
We hope there will be Malaysians in all communities who will stand up and be counted to do their own maths, and question the politicians when the figures appear wrong.
When (not if) successful, this first-of-its-kind initiative will be replicated in other constituencies, and hopefully throughout the country.
You should join UndiMalaysia! It will excite and be exciting. We are in the process of recruiting and mobilising. We are also inviting all NGOs on board to raise their own issues when we campaign, and share the same platform for a larger presence and stronger voice. Most importantly, we want YOU on board. No expertise is required.
If you have an interest in being part of something bigger than your own personal life, join us.
If you think you are clueless and want to come on board to learn, join us.
If you have no clue about politics, but are keen on helping out in any way, join us.
We will guide and find a place for you. Be part of a movement that is truly a rakyat‘s movement. Move us. Move with us. Join us. Start history with us. Change the way politicians behave — they are not VIPs who need to be bowed down to, they are there to represent YOUR needs. Re-write the lives of Malaysians. Be the change you want to see.
Email your details to [email protected], and we will do the rest!
We promise you, your life will never be the same.