Youth PACT champions young changemakers for a better Malaysia

(From left) Josephine Tan, Emellia Shariff, Syed Saddiq and Lim Yi Wei shared their thoughts at the inaugural Youth PACT 2022.

YOUNG people may lack experience, but they make up for it with passion, enthusiasm and most importantly, the ability to disrupt status quos.

Muar MP and Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) president Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said there’s a general disbelief in the skills and intellect of young people, but the new generation are doing exceptional things at a much younger age and they are more mature and educated than ever.

“And that's where we see the high achievers today are made up of young people,” he said at the recent online youth forum on Breaking New Ground: Will Malaysia Ever Be Ready For A Youth Prime Minister?

Syed Saddiq was among youth politicians and leaders from various political parties invited to discuss the prospects of increasing youth involvement in politics, the shifts in the local political landscape as well as their aspirations for a better Malaysia.

The forum was one of the events at the inaugural Youth PACT 2022 – an initiative co-founded by Taylor’s College and the Malaysian Institute for Debate and Public Speaking (MIDP) – which aims to give youth voices a platform to discuss critical nation building issues, while connecting young Malaysians to youth leaders and change-makers to inspire action.

“28% of Malaysia’s population are made up of youths. In such demographic realities, our youths hold enormous potential for change and positive action. It is in the same spirit and philosophy that we – Taylor’s College and MIDP – curated this forum by youths, for youths with the vision to provide a safe space for intellectual discussion and discourse,” said Taylor’s College campus director Josephine Tan.

The Youth PACT platform is aligned with the ethos that governs Taylor’sphere – a holistic learning ecosystem that strives to provide students and communities a unique experience to gear them for their productive place in the world.

MIDP chief executive officer Emellia Shariff who was the moderator of the forum said: “Change is inevitable, particularly in the hands of millennials and Gen Zs who are most passionate about social justice issues, and we can see how their voices have altered the behaviour of politicians, improve visibility on important issues, and even create legislative improvements.”

As a leading institute for soft skills education in Malaysia, MIDP believes that the ability to communicate effectively, think critically and creatively, as well as engage in constructive debates are important in advocating for a better Malaysia.

“Since 2010, we have been running classes, workshops and competitions to equip our students with the right skills to do something that matters. But it is not just about capacity building, it’s also about opportunities. At some point, we have to stop thinking about our youths as the ‘future leaders’ and start offering them a seat at the table,” said Emellia.

Former secretary for Srikandi Keadilan and Wanita Muda Negara Sarawak Vanessa Ricky said it is evident that these days the younger generation have better access to education and information.

“Don’t just ask: Are they ready? Do something to prepare them,” said Vanessa.

Kampung Tunku assemblyman Lim Yi Wei encouraged youths to intern with their local assemblymen or MPs to learn what their representatives do and how a political party functions.

“If you want to join politics or any other field, it's important to have a good mentor,” said Lim, who shared how she emailed Damansara MP Tony Pua to ask about internship opportunities.

Batu MP and Federal Territories Keadilan Youth chief P. Prabakaran, who was elected as the country's youngest parliamentarian, said it is estimated that there will be 7.8 million youth voters for the next election.

“As the (youth) chief for the Federal Territories, I want to see more youths in the electoral and nation-building process,” he said.

Youth PACT 2022 featured up to 15 youth organisations such as UndiSabah, Architects of Diversity Malaysia, BolehSpace, MISI: Solidariti and MYER Movement who are working tirelessly to create awareness and educate Malaysians on a wide range of issues, such as education equity, climate justice, gender equality, youth employability, rights of persons with disability and many more.

Aside from discussions, the event also conducted workshops by Biji-Biji Initiative group CEO Rashvin Pal Singh, and Rizal Rozhan from Impact Malaysia to equip young advocates with the strategy to create innovative solutions to injustices as well as the tools to measure the impact of their social justice campaigns.

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