Empowering the Next Generation of Malaysians;

Shaping the Future of Our Nation

Opening – Youth Parliament: Channelling the Voices of Young Malaysians

Nobody can ignore the role of youth in nation building. However, those only include youths that are actively involved with the development of the country with their towering ambitions and great motivation to bring the country forward. With 11.65 million youth in Malaysia currently making up 40.2 % of the whole population, the voices of youth is a force to be reckoned with.

But how can teenagers, university students or fresh graduate voice out what really matters to them?

Like other developed countries, Malaysia had come up with Youth Parliament that is run by young people and it gives youth a chance to be heard on a national platform. 119 members from all states will represent the youths of Malaysia. Other objective of the Youth Parliament is for youth to gain the skills and confidence to become the next generation of Malaysian leaders. The main question rose whether this Youth Parliament truly speaks for young people needs or is it just a platform for certain individuals to gain political recognition?

Taking Australian Youth Forum (AYF) as a comparison, AYF gives young Australian opportunities to ensure their ideas are considered in the development of Australian public policy, programs or projects. Any young person can post their opinion on current issues affecting Australian youth such as government funding for schools and suggests new topics for discussion on a website.

This is just an example taken from Australia. The most important part is that youth knows their voice is heard and their voice matters. Many young Malaysians have the capacity to contribute a wealth of ideas and energy to Malaysia’s governance and national priorities. They are only waiting for their chance to engage and participate in the progress of their nation.

However, does the Youth Parliament enough a platform to represent the 11.65 million youth in Malaysia? Will the Malaysian Youth Parliament really expresses youths’ necessities and needs? How great the impact of feedbacks and ideas contributed will have on issues affecting youth? How effective is Youth Parliament in addressing issues that affect youth? Will Youth Parliament also increase the involvement of youth in politics?

Many questions but one thing is for sure. Youth should know that now their voice is heard.

Session 1 – Continuing A Legacy vs Implementing New Ideas: A Delicate Balancing Act

Raja Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Arshad Bin Raja Tun Uda, during an interview with the New Straits Times in 2005 said: “In the old days, everything was based on seniority. But as the business gets more complex and given the changing market environment, you don’t just go on seniority; you go on ability and many other criteria. You need somebody who can relate to the business community, to government, and with the staff.” Thus, Dato’ Seri Johan Raslan was appointed as the Executive Chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers Malaysia due to his ability, not age priority.

Indeed, filling in the giant footsteps of prominent names would be a challenge and the successor would likely feel the pressure especially being just a layman or as an underdog. Thus, would the new successor be executing the exact blueprint or implementing a new strategy?

It is a dilemma for the predecessor before leaving the position since he or she would feel that they need to guide the ‘new guy’ to follow their path and what has been structured in order for the organization to be as what they want it to be. “If you’re the current leader, avoid the temptation to ‘clone’ yourself.” It is critical to realize that the successor cannot lead the organization just like the previous predecessor. “Look for the right person to build upon what you have done and take it to new heights, not preserve your memory.” says Otis W. Baskin, a business professor in Pepperdine University, California.

However, such visualisation or aspiration might not be agreed upon by the newbie since the new successor might have own ideas to develop the organization to dissociate new administration from previous ones. It is somehow important for leaders to have their own concept and unique ways in steering the administration. People say, using old ideas is like stealing and strangles innovation which puts limitation to creativity. Steve Job, the late Chairman of Apple Inc. also added that “The key to creativity is to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then to bring those things into what you are doing”. Nevertheless, if the structure is already in good condition, why choose to go astray? What more do we need to prove?

Somehow, the need to have a balance between the past and the present is vital. While the idea might be old, a new context can give it a whole new purpose and create value in new ways. Somehow it is an agile process that is driven forward by trial and error, but it is almost

always built on existing ideas spiced with our own ability to see connections, patterns and potential values. That is what creativity should be seen as; a method to make old ideas better in a new way.

The question to bear in mind is that, if the base of the structure is bad, should we build a new structure all over again or we just patch things up to make things easier for us?

Session 2 – Youth as Problem Solvers: Ingenuity in Nation Building

“The Young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible; and achieve it generation after generation.” Pearl S. Buck – Nobel Prize in Literature 1938

Perhaps the most overlooked drivers in Nation Building are the Youth of the country. Their roles in the future of the nation are well understood and agreed upon; to be the next generation of leaders. However, their role in the years when their youth is in abundance is debatable, yet their contribution in nation building should not be undermined.

Barry Checkoway, a Professor of Social Work and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan wrote in his study, “What is Youth Participation?” published in 2010, “It is difficult to involve young people when they do not view themselves as a group that can create change, or when they have ideas but unsure how to proceed, or when they take action but lack resources for implementation”. Although this study is limited to the situation in The United States, one can see that these issues seem to surface in the context of Malaysia.

It is probably the perception that change can only be created by a higher authority; namely the Government, that is resulting in youth showing discontent through social media and in extreme cases, demonstrations that get out of hand. After a closer inspection on the various posts on social media, it seems that most of the posts are mere whining on issues and most of the ‘solutions’ offered are the pleas to the government and short term solutions that most often than not would leave the roots of the problem unresolved. On the road to becoming a developed nation, have we not yet created a generation of youth that is capable of solving the problems faced by the nation?

What are the fundamentals of problem solving in the context of politics, economics and academics and are these concepts relevant to the problems faced by the youth? Are the youth simply inexperienced or is problem solving a culture that needs to be developed within our society? Is it something that can be addressed through education or is there a role played by culture? With the increase of channels that youth may voice out their thoughts such as the forthcoming Youth Parliament, it would be a waste if these channels are not made a place where well thought solutions are discussed.

The fact that there are a number of youth and youth leaders out there that have put much thought and come up with solutions to drive the nation forward is not to be dismissed. What matters is whether we can build on that to develop a problem solving culture and spread it to bring our nation to greater heights. Is it possible?

Session 3 – Achieving your dreams : Sky is the limit or is it Space?

There is no greater time than now to start working towards your dream. Everyone has one, be it to start a new hobby, achieve better academic qualifications or landing that dream job. Whatever it is, one needs to make the first step no matter how challenging. Youth has lots of tools to make their dream come true. We are strong, agile and ambitious. Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch once said “The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire”. Dreams can be made into reality if and only if we are willing to work for them. When you have the willingness to make it work, you should first know how to.

Firstly, one should dream big. Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete ever, achieved the impossible by attaining 8 gold medals in a single Olympic once said “You cannot put a limit on anything, the more you dream the farther you get”. Youth today sometimes underestimates their ability and often aim for unchallenging goals and be grateful when they achieve them.
Next on the list, stay motivated. It is easy to claim your dream is to be the next Irfan Khairi, the internet millionaire. But how to avoid being discouraged when things do not go your way? How to prevent the attitude of ‘hangat hangat taik ayam’ from influencing you?

The solution is one should enjoy the journey. The process of fulfilling your dream should not be a chore, it should be an adventure. If you are too stressed out to reach your end-goal, you might miss golden opportunities in the here-and-now.

Choose your best motivational quote; we have all heard it before. For a moment, we have so many things to pursue; to get the best out of this life, but most times we never move even a muscle. Our hopes and goals are clouded with doubts and uncertainties. It is time to stop dreaming and start living. You want to know the rest on how to achieve your dreams? All these will be answered and discussed in Session 2 of National Aspiration and Leadership Symposium.

Session 4 – Islam dan Hak Asasi Manusia: Kebebasan Sifat atau Kepercayaan Hakiki?

Islam bukan sekadar satu agama yang berbentuk ritual tetapi merupakan satu cara hidup yang lengkap dan sempurna. Walaupun begitu, terdapat golongan dalam masyarakat yang memperlekehkan aspek kesempurnaan Islam ini dengan melabelkan Islam sebagai agama yang sempit, jumud dan tidak seiring dengan arus pemikiran baru yang terdapat pada hari ini. Kemunculan fahaman-fahaman baru yang dilihat seolah-olah menolak elemen agama merupakan satu ancaman baru kepada kepada pemikiran masyarakat Malaysia. Seperti mana sebuah deklarasi Hak Asasi Manusia yang di canang warga Barat yang termaktub gah di dalam dokumen bertarikh 10 Disember 1948 dianggap menjadi kitab untuk melaungkan hak-hak yang mereka dambakan.

Berbeza dengan perspektif Islam, pemikir-pemikir Barat lebih cenderung mengaitkan hak asasi manusia dengan kedaulatan dan kebebasan individu semata-mata. Bagi mereka, hak asasi manusia dan kebebasan individu adalah bersifat mutlak dan kepentingan individu mengatasi kepentingan manusia sejagat. Dari kefahaman inilah lahir pelbagai corak kehidupan manusia moden yang kadangkala dilihat seolah-olah membawa ketamadunan manusia itu beberapa langkah ke belakang dan mengulangi kesilapan golongan manusia lampau yang pernah wujud dalam zaman sebelum kedatangan Islam dan juga jauh dari cara hidup yang didakwah oleh para Nabi dan Rasul yang diutus oleh Allah SWT untuk golongan manusia.

Oleh yang demikian, dunia Islam mahu turut sama membawa isu ini ke mata dunia dengan membuktikan bahawa Islam sememangnya mengiktiraf hak asasi manusia secara dasar dengan diperkukuhkan lagi dengan adanya ‘Cairo Declaration On Human Rights In Islam’ atau Deklarasi Kaherah yang dipersetujui pada 5 Ogos 1990. Kita soroti kembali apa makna yang tersingkap di sebalik hak asasi manusia yang dipraktikkan dalam Islam. Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali dan Imam Abu Ishaq al-Shatibi menggariskan beberapa prinsip Maqasid Shariah iaitu maksud-maksud (tujuan-tujuan) Shariah. Antaranya ialah jaminan Islam memberi perlindungan dan menegakkan hak-hak asasi manusia terhadap hak bernyawa (Nafs), hak menggunakan akal (Aql), berkeyakinan atau beragama (Din), hak berkeluarga (Nasl) dan hak mempunyai harta benda (Mal).

Oleh yang demikian, setelah Islam mengangkat martabat dan mengiktiraf hak hak asasi manusia yang sedia ada, namun terdapat segelintir pihak yang masih tak henti-henti mempersoalkan hak dan kebebasan individu. Laporan terbaru di Berita Harian mengenai sekumpulan Mak Nyah yang mahu membuat rayuan tentang keputusan mahkamah mengenai hak dan kebebasan mereka yang didakwa golongan teraniaya kerana tiada siapa yang memperjuangkan hak mereka.
Persoalannya, apakah batasan hak asasi manusia dalam konteks Islam sekiranya Islam mengiktiraf hak individu tetapi hak tersebut bukanlah hak mutlak sepenuhnya?

Prepared by,
Think-Tank Unit