Humility, prudence in decision-making crucial in lawmaking, says Youth and Sports Minister

One for the album: Some of the youth delegates having a wefie with Yeoh (third from right) and CARUM director Dr Rahul Mishra (far right). – IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

YOUTH is an advantage of the young to do more but to make a positive impact, they need to practise humility.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the European Union (EU)-Asean Youth Diplomats Programme (EAYDP) recently, Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh cautioned youths who wish to pursue a lawmaking career against being arrogant and stubborn.

“Being stubborn can be a good point because you are firm on your stand, but you have to ensure that you are standing on something that is factual and correct.

“Being firm for the sake of being firm amounts to nothing,” she said.

She added that it is also important to not act hastily and rush into coming up with a solution, especially over sensitive matters.

“Some problems are multilayered in complexity and may need multiple approaches, so that’s why you need to take time to engage and to listen,” she explained.

Yeoh also emphasised the importance of engaging with experts and practitioners when working as a lawmaker.

“Diplomacy requires engagement of all people, and humility is really a key for the youths to be successful.

“You need to have the ability to be teachable, and to learn and engage with experienced practitioners,” she said, adding that it is very important to not only listen to one side of the story.

Citing her early days as an assemblywoman in Subang Jaya, Selangor, she said she did not manage to achieve what she set out to do because she did not listen to experienced practitioners in the field.

“Doing the right thing the right way is very, very important, especially if you want to be a diplomat,” she said, stressing the need to follow the standard operating procedure when engaging in public policy.

“It is also very important to be concise in delivering statements,” she added.

Yeoh also urged the delegates to give back to the nation.

“Malaysia needs every single one of you. Don’t take the shortcut of migrating.

“Don’t give up so easily because Malaysia really is worth fighting for,” she said.

Held in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of EU-Asean relations, the EAYDP, which took place from Feb 17 to Feb 19, saw the participation of 45 selected youths aged between 18 and 25 from across Malaysia.

During his opening address on Feb 17, Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman expressed hope that the programme could help shine light on the heaviness of being a decision maker, especially on sensitive issues concerning millions.

“The point is, change is in your hands. You have the toolkit in front of you, whether you want to place a sanction, an invasion or a diplomatic dialogue.

“Once you are in their (the decision makers’) shoes, you realise why decision-making takes a long time because every single decision can make the most astronomical changes in the global scale,” he asserted.

An initiative of the Delegation of the European Union to Malaysia, the EAYDP was held at the Asia-Europe Institute (AEI) in Universiti Malaya (UM).

At the event, the participants had the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of EU-Asean diplomacy, policy dialogue and cooperation, while developing practical skills in leadership, teamwork, negotiation, critical thinking and research under real-world pressure.

Taking part in a simulation of the EU-Asean Summit on the political crisis in Myanmar, the youth delegates each represent an EU or Asean member state or institution as they presented their respective positions on the crisis, negotiated with each other, and finally voted on an Asean-EU joint statement on the Myanmar crisis.

The simulation provided the participants a glimpse of how EU and Asean policymakers arrive at a decision on a given subject.

The EAYDP was sponsored by the EU, and organised in partnership with the AEI, the Centre for Asean Regionalism Universiti Malaya (CARUM), the Malaysian Youth Association for Diplomacy and Policy (MYADP) and the National Centre for Research on Europe (NCRE).

‘Dear M’sian leaders...’ EAYDP participants give their views on our role in Asean

“Malaysia should be the first country to start negotiations and push for peace in Asean. We need to be a stronger voice, especially with the new government, and make sure that we are the bringers of peace and prosperity.” – Alka Kaur Sandhu, 22

“Malaysian leaders should take a stronger stance in Asean because in the past, Malaysia had taken up the role, so I believe our country has the capabilities to do it again.” – Justin Tee Yong Ting, 22

“There’s always a need for Malaysian leaders to continuously learn from their counterparts in other countries. It’s very important for them to be open-minded when they’re approaching sensitive matters because a lot is at stake.” – Azida Ahmad Azmi, 24

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