New Government, New Rules, and a Youth Climate Change NGO

 

What does Pakatan Harapan and Dua Lipa have in common?
They’ve got new rules, they count ‘em.

 

(pls laugh)

 

Post #GE14 has been nothing but a whirlwind of constant social media and news update every 30 seconds, keeping us always glued to the screen, racing to get first hand updates and spread it to our WhatsApp group chats, Facebook and Twitter. Millennials made up the majority of registered voters, with Malaysians aged 21-39 years old making up 41% of the registered voters in #GE14. The shocking election win of Pakatan Harapan, after 60 years of ruling under Barisan Nasional, left its mark on history – evidently proving that those of you with a purple inked finger on the 9th of May did make a difference.

 

The formation of the new government signifies hope in our country, and a breath of fresh air. The Malaysian Youth Delegation rejoiced the win of the newly elected government, but at the same time, stayed firm and rooted on the cause of environment and climate change. To acknowledge the historic win, MYD released a media statement, calling on Pakatan Harapan Government to Strengthen Climate Action in Malaysia. The statement took basis of the Buku Harapan, as MYD reminds the government that they are being held accountable to not only just MYD, but also the rakyat.

 

Not long after MYD published the media statement, another writing opportunity arose. Karee Chan (MYD18), a Masters student at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, alerted the MYD group on the call for submission to the Committee for Institutional Reforms, Council of Eminent Persons. The written representation was called upon for individuals and groups who wish to address structural defects or failure of institutions to function according to the law or ineffective decision making process or inadequate redressal mechanism.

 

 

MYD decided to hop on board the opportunity and put together a letter to address the structural defects that stunt the decision-making process to address climate change, and suggest mechanisms for good climate governance in a Letter to Committee for Institutional Reforms. Putting together this intricate piece on such an important topic was not a bucketful of rainbows and was not accomplished without its challenges.

 

Having produced two articles in the span of one month (a milestone for MYD!), there are key areas that I would like to write and reflect upon, as below:

 

  1. The future of politics is grassroots

 

Pakistan Harapan’s win in #GE14 marks a “Demokrasi Era Baru” as described by Astro Awani – which, when translated means the New Era of Democracy. With the formation of the Council of Eminent Persons to advise the government and oversee the progress of keeping the new government accountable in the first 100 days as promised, there is definitely a fresh approach as to how governance and democracy is portrayed in the country. The invitation for written representation proves that the ruling coalition encourages the public to partake in the democratic process, and stresses on inclusitivity as it takes into account the rakyat’s opinion.

 

  1. Youth participation in institutional reform

 

The opportunity for youth participation in politics is rather slim in this country. The existence of University and University Colleges Act (AUKU) 1971 and Private Higher Educational Institutional Act (Act 555) prevents the engagement of university students in university grounds or involvement in political rallies in the first place. Is it not the role of higher education institutions to spark critical thinking, and host intellectual debates to mould high calibre graduates capable of leading and designing the future of tomorrow? We must derive way from the education confined within the four brick walls of a classroom and truly dive in relevant, meaningful conversations and freedom of political expression.

 

As Pakatan Harapan takes over as the ruling coalition, it was as if the air was cleared of pollution. It was like turning over onto a new blank page of a notebook, waiting to be written on, and having new words encrypted. After a long time, the youth are no longer silent, and rediscovered their voices to speak out – and they are speaking out loud. Social media became a powerful tool for communications, building a bridge between the millennials and politicians. Active participation by youth organisations in addressing institutional defects via hosting forums and publishing statements prove that the youth is concerned and acting positively towards reform, enhancing participation in democratisation process and strengthening social cohesion in the governance system.

 

  1. Priority areas of climate change in Malaysia

 

MYD’s Letter to Committee for Institutional Reforms briefly yet comprehensively outlined the priority areas of climate change in Malaysia. First and foremost, the letter reiterated the Janji 39, made by the Pakatan Harapan Manifesto, which is the to establish the National Coordination Council for Climate Adaptation and Mitigation (Majlis Koordinasi Kebangsaan until Adaptasi dan Mitigasi Iklim). In order to achieve effectiveness of the said Council, a greater integration is needed within the Ministry and Agencies. Major GHG contributing sectors has to be closely monitored so that the goal of 40% carbon emissions reduction by 2020 can be achieved as stated in Janji 39.

 

In terms of climate change mitigation, areas of priority include access to affordable and sustainable energy, interagency practice of inclusive decision-making, proper GHG inventory and assessment, regulation of land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities and emission reduction from transportation sector and livestock production.

 

On climate change adaptation, emphasis was placed on the importance of National Adaptation Plan, more studies on coastal vulnerability, more stringent assessment of major developments in regards to climate change, food security and impact of climate change and biodiversity conservation.

 

Intergenerational equity plays a significant role in addressing climate change. It is imperative that the voices of youth are well-represented in the decision-making process.

 

Lastly, climate education is identified as key in providing a holistic understanding of climate-earth system and humanity. The Ministry of Education as well as Natural Resources and Environment must look into revamping climate education policies. Capacity building is pertinent in creating an environmentally conscious society.

 

The process of putting together a statement or co-writing a letter has always been an enriching learning journey, as I get to learn a lot from my teammates, who are knowledgeable in their own fields. Having teammates from diverse background added more value in the discussion as we perceive things from different perspectives. For example, Nacha, Kelvin and I had a last minute debate with Karee when she brought up the issue of climate change and livestock production, evidently backing up her opinions by citing scientific research. However though, the data cited was a global data, and lacked local findings. After the lengthy discussion we managed to compress the point under the larger umbrella of climate change mitigation, rather than a stand alone topic. Juggling tight deadlines, rapid decision making and the need for being inclusive of ideas contributed reminds me of my experience writing an intervention with YOUNGO – definitely a skill that is ultra useful gained by participating in COP.

 

Just like Dua Lipa, Pakatan Harapan DGAF –

 

Dares to

Govern

Advocacy

Forward

 

Salam Malaysia Baharu.

 

Written by Jasmin Irisha

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