One is never too young to embrace good values and thus, one is never too young to embrace democracy.
Teaching the young to build their own future starts with asking them to open their eyes, while planting the seeds of democracy in their hearts and minds. Making it a habit and a way of life assures that it is practiced and kept alive, amplifying our hopes for a more civil future.
I participated in a condensed UndiMsia! #IdolaDemokrasi 4 hour test GameShop held at PusatRakyatLB on 22 October 2011. The GameShop aims to show that the topics of democracy and politics must be fun, exciting, enlightening, empowering and relevant. I must add that they achieved and exceeded their aims. The participants mainly consisted of students and young professionals, our leaders of tomorrow. When the GameShop ended, I could clearly see that hope, confidence and empowerment was now part of their new persona.
The GameShop covers the basic principles of democracy and how the process can empower people in problem-solving and solution-creation. It is established by understanding the concept of collective wisdom used to identify issues and root causes. I believe this is a critical lesson: normally, people identify problems without realising that these are merely symptoms of a systemic issue. The GameShop pushes the participants to look at the root causes of issues and have a holistic, multi-dimensioned view in understanding how to map and resolve issues more effectively and efficiently by crowd-sourcing the solution. In playing this out, it highlights that the government needs to be agile in responding to proposed solutions.
Basic principles practiced in this GameShop is participatory democracy, a core concept of democracy (Greek demos and kratos) – implying people empowerment and that all democracy should be participatory.
They then moved on to describe the Malaysian constitutional structure, with the demonstration that the Malaysian democratic model is a representative model (an election every five years and not much else in between). The contrast between a participatory and representative model is then made and ideas shared on how we can work within the system to encourage a more participatory model at all levels of governance (e.g. neighbourhood, city council, DUN constituencies, state level and national level).
This bridges the power gap where many Malaysians believe they only have one chance in every five years to make a difference. The channels of communication were also discussed and examples given showing that the democratic process provides many platforms for communication to raise the people’s voices. This brought the message home to participants that empowerment is in their hands and that it is, in fact, their civic responsibility to participate in building a better home, neighbourhood, state and country.
It is important to note that the GameShop promotes non-partisanship and teaches participants to engage as responsible social change agents in a productive manner, instead of being negative and/or passive cynics, ever critical of the government without making any effort in resolving issues. I believe that every Malaysian with an opinion, from all walks of life should go through this GameShop or similar derivatives. #IdolaDemokrasi should be held all over Malaysia and be sustained over time. It is fun but most importantly, opens opportunities to action. It also changes the vistas of participants’ views in regards to the role they play in building their nation of Malaysia.
Reuben has formed a Sarawak Youth Action Group (YAG) to bring UndiMsia! to the state. Contact him @maybl8r99 to connect.