‘Hidup rakyat! Hidup rakyat!’
Those were the most memorable chant that still plays in my head until today. It’s been half a year since the BERSIH rally which I took part in and changed my life forever.
My name is JoFan. I’m 19 and have just entered into first year of law school. I’m known as the guy who was arrested at the July 9th rally. Aside from that I can assure you that I’m an ordinary young Malaysian. But there is this one thing that might make me a little different. I’m also a campaigner, or rather a Community Mover as we like to call ourselves in UndiMsia.
Now what is UndiMsia and what are we all about? Many have conveniently assumed that we are an organization that runs a voter registration programme. That is COMPLETELY inaccurate. There are two things that are wrong in that assumption.
First of all, we do not register voters; we educate them. We realized that simply having registered voters was not enough. Malaysia needs voters who are empowered and educated. We aim to activate Malaysians, especially the youths to fully participate and make full use of the democracy process that we have in this nation. Our goal is to broaden the considerations a voter would take into account when they consider a candidate. We encourage them to consider the merits of the candidate and the issues they fight for, and not simply base their vote on a certain party or the popularity of candidate.
We also aim educate voters to keep those they voted in power accountable to them. After all the people are the true bosses of those they have voted to represent them. We believe that democracy does not end at the ballot box. It should be practiced everyday.
But how? And that leads to the second error in that assumption. We are NOT an organization, we are a movement. Through workshops (which we call game shops) and other activities, we empower young people to set up Youth Action Groups (YAG) in their community and challenge them to act on their local issues, providing them with all the resources and advice they need with our DIY Toolkit. We aim to empower these young people so that they can empower even more young people as more YAGs are set up all over Malaysia to tackle their local issues, keeping their representatives accountable to them as they take matters into their own hands in making Malaysia a better place.
I personally came to know about UndiMsia through another community that I am involved in called LoyarBurok. It is a community blawg (yes, that is how we spell it). UndiMsia is actually a project birthed at the LoyarBurok retreat last year. I did not pay much attention to it until Edmund Bon, which I came to know after my BERSIH episode, approached me on twitter and invited me to join their weekly UndiMsiaChats at Pusat Rakyat LoyarBurok. I don’t know how he did it, but I went. People in the LoyarBurok community affectionately term this the #BonCon. But no one minds, it’s all for a very good cause after all.
Yes, I was involved ever since and am a proud community mover even today, going stronger with all my other fellow community movers. As a community mover in UndiMsia, there is much work to be done. There is no such thing as a member without a role here in UndiMsia. As mentioned, we are ceaselessly trying our best to set up YAGs all around Malaysia, we do so by first conducting gameshops in these places we wish to target.
In this process, community movers play many roles such as facilitating the game shops, live tweet the event to raise public morale and awareness, selling our merchandises and doing the accounts of all these sales that we have made and everything else that needs to be involved. Besides, we also started a project in Hulu Langat to use as our test ground to run our voter education and empowerment campaign. It is currently under way. We have been there for a few times just to bond with the people there through activities like camping. We also recently gathered a big group of community movers down to Hulu Langat to do a survey on the people’s knowledge of their representatives. These statistics will then be calculated and included in our Laporan Rakyat (score card for representatives).
To sum up, we community movers have to learn to be very flexible with our abilities. We must always ready to do anything it takes to keep the movement going. We believe and we have faith that this movement won’t die out but instead multiply.
By getting myself involved in UndiMsia I learned a lot from stepping out of my comfort zone to not just do the things that I am familiar with, but also things that are completely new. I was placed in this environment where there is no time and space for anyone to be shy or passive, work beckons. Although it may sound like a pressured environment, it really isn’t. Instead, I have found myself learning how to adapt fast in each new environment and get going right away.
With the many short trips we have all around Malaysia and game shops we conduct everywhere, I also got the chance to meet many different types of people and hear them out. One of the most encouraging thing of being a community mover is to go everywhere and see that there is hope in Malaysia with the enthusiasm of youths all around. The YAG experience would be a completely different one as one starts to get down to the ground on local issues and raising awareness on local youths wherever your YAG is set up.
The possibilities are almost endless. This is a movement. While there are no clear cut guidelines, the goal is clear. It is to ultimately empower and activate Malaysian youths to take action and ownership of their beloved Malaysia. We chanted ‘Hidup Rakyat!’ at rallies, now it is time to make sure it really happens.
What I have mentioned proves why you should get yourself involved if you care about our country. First, it will change your life. Second, it is fun! Trust me. It’s not all just work work work. Having fun and making really good friends in the process plays a big role in keeping the team together. The best experience I had was to meet and move alongside with like-minded peers working towards this same goal of a better Malaysia, not to mention the food and fun we have as we travel around.
To get yourself involved, you can follow us on Twitter (@UndiMsia) and Facebook (UndiMsia!). Tweet or email us at [email protected] your email address and we’ll add you into our egroup. Other than that, you can also start by coming for our weekly UndiMsia Chats at PusatRakyat LoyarBurok at Bangsar every Saturday (unless stated) from 11pm to 12pm. After that we would normally head down to further get to know each other and chat at the mamak for lunch. Contact us for more information.
Hope to have you move with us soon!
Disclaimer: Neither UndiMsia! nor MTG:M are politically aligned. We are both politically neutral. This article was first posted on Mind The Gap: Malaysia.