Basil Foo writes for Selangor Times about UndiMsia!, giving readers more information on what it is and how to be a part of it. The original article published in Issue 40 (September 9-11, 2011) is here.
SHAH ALAM: A campaign to get voters to cast their ballots based on issues rather than on racial or partisan lines is being run by UndiMsia!.
The voter education movement highlights issues affecting ordinary Malaysians during a three-week online voting simulation over Facebook.
Twenty candidates, championing issues like public transport, education and living cost, are counting on the number of “likes” their photos have garnered to get “elected”.
“People vote for their favourite candidates or causes. Every week, some candidates are eliminated,” said UndiMsia! representative June Low.
She said 10 finalists will compete at a fundraising dinner organised by the movement called Come UndiMsia! – Imagining a Tastier Democracy on Malaysia Day.
The finalists will present their causes in unique ways like singing and acting before voting for the winner.
Low said the movement would use the funds raised at the Sept 16 dinner for informational material and workshops.
“UndiMsia! aims to carry out a series of voter education deliverables,” she said.
The dinner will also feature programme booklets with sketches of schoolchildren’s visions of Malaysia.
She said a lot of effort was taken to produce the booklets as they were taken to schools for children to draw straight onto the pages.
“The idea is that a better Malaysia requires effort and perseverance, but it’s worth fighting for because within it is something very beautiful,” she explained.
Ticket holders will also receive a booklet of photography from KL-based photographer Johnny McGeorge, apart from being able to meet well-known local jewelry designer Lisa.
Those interested in attending the dinner and participating in the voting simulation can visit [email protected] or UndiMsia!’s Facebook page.
SHAH ALAM: With the influx of new voters and the grapevine abuzz with rumours about the next general election, voter education movement UndiMsia! wants to ensure the votes are not wasted.
“Having more voters is a step forward. What comes after is to see voters decide wisely,” said UndiMsia! organiser Zain HD.
UndiMsia! feels that people should vote on issues instead of along racial or partisan lines.
The movement also plans to promote greater participation by young Malaysians in decisions that affect them by making informed choices when they vote.
Zain said the newly minted group of several hundred Malaysians has so far conducted recruitment drives and created awareness of their cause.
Issues on food and housing, civil and political rights, and educating the public on the national budget are some of their targets.
“We plan to disseminate information through online platforms and also on-ground for a nationwide-based audience,” he said.
He added that due to resource constraints, the group could only focus on the Hulu Langat parliamentary constituency to carry out their activities.
The group plans to hold workshops to engage closely with groups and communities.
The parliamentary constituency, which includes the Dusun Tua, Semenyih and Kajang state seats, was chosen to test UndiMsia!’s impact on society.
Respondents can opt to be part of a youth action group to help people improve their lives.
VOTER education movement UndiMsia! has been conducting a voting simulation on social networking site Facebook for the past three weeks.
Twenty candidates were chosen and displayed on the movement’s Facebook page, each championing specific causes like public transport, education and living costs.
Each week, candidates with the lowest number of “likes” on their photos are eliminated – culminating in 10 candidates who will compete in a final round on Malaysia Day.
Selangor Times interviewed some of the candidates to find out more about what they stand for, their views on the electoral process, and other little tidbits about themselves.
“My stand for this campaign is equal and fair treatment for all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or any other reason,” said See Xien Thean.
Standing for “equality in the Federal Constitution”, he said he got along well with friends of all races and religions when growing up in a multicultural environment.
He believes that when left to themselves without political influences, Malaysians will accept their differences and will naturally come together as one nation.
“I believe the vast majority of us are sick of being divided, and that is why I am fighting for this cause,” See said.
He dreams of a day when he can finally live in a Malaysia that has lived up to all it can be, and he wishes to help work towards making that a reality.
Championing the “treatment of refugees and asylum seekers”, Deepa Nambiar said she felt troubled when the issue is disregarded as unimportant by the public.
“This attitude of being unconcerned about their treatment because it does not involve Malaysian citizens reveals our political and social immaturity,” she said.
She explained that refugees come to our shores out of fear of persecution in their homeland, but instead end up being detained in detention centres for long periods.
She added that while some have managed to fend for themselves, their children hardly receive formal education or access to medical care.
“Their treatment is unacceptable. We call ourselves a civilised nation, yet we can’t even offer them basic needs to preserve their dignity as human beings,” Deepa said.
She expressed hope that voters would better educate themselves on their rights, roles and responsibilities, and not rely solely on the powers that be.