Information is a very important element for every human in their lives. We make decisions everyday; be it personal issues, family matters or even those affecting the country by relying on information that we can obtain.
During the prehistoric era, our forefathers then have very limited information. They communicated with fire, beacons, smoke signals or maybe the sound of drums and horns.
In 550 BC, the Persian King Cyrus the Great was believed to have invented the postal system. The new communication system was a breakthrough then. Information can be kept and archived. But posts and mails needed time to reach the people depending on the location and terrain of where the recipient lives. Sometimes, the intended information doesn’t reach to its target.
Then, people like Francis Ronald, Baron Schilling and many others innovated the communication tools. They invented the telegraph in the 1800s. People then could send information from different locations immediately by transmitting signals by using that device.
Voice communication was firstly invented by one of the greatest inventors ever, Alexander Graham Bell when he brought the first practical telephone in 1876 to the world. The famous and first sentence ever transmitted over voice is when he called his assistant, “Mr. Watson, Come here, I want to see you.”
After witnessing voice being able to transmitted from one place to another, the world witnessed another groundbreaking invention in the 19th century, the television.
Now, thanks to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the youth today have access to information and communication more than ever at a lightning speed compared to our forefathers when they were youth. He is the inventor of the internet. The extensive information available in the internet enables the youth today to be more well-informed on every single matter that is related to their lives.
That leads to the belief that the current youth are able to articulate and matured enough in the context information availability to be part of the decision-making process at a higher level. Not only that they are able to make good decisions for themselves, but they are also able to make smart decisions on national issues and public policies. Hence, more and more governments in the world formed Youth Parliaments to listen more on the opinion of the youth. There are Youth Parliaments in the United Kingdom, Scotland, Pakistan, Australia, Africa and the latest is our own Malaysian government forming its own youth parliament this year.
Since the election of the Malaysian Youth Parliament members or the Ahli Parlimen Belia Malaysia (APBM) has been conducted last year, there are several different perceptions by the public of this Youth Parliament. Some questioned the purpose and relevance of it.
Being given the opportunity not only to witness, but to participate as one of the Malaysian Youth Parliament members, I opined that it is relevant as in developing the younger ones to be part of the decision-making process for the Government. Allow me to explain briefly on the process of the Youth Parliament.
Before each Youth Parliament session, the APBM engages their peers through various platforms and programs to understand their needs and concerns. The first draft of resolutions will then be proposed and discussed at the committee level. There are nine committees namely, Socio-economy; International and Diplomatic Relations; Security, Law and Integrity; Education and Career; Culture, Sports, Patriotism and Integration; Infrastructure, Development and Environment; Community Development and Health; Technology and Innovation; Spiritual and Religion.
After the first draft of resolution, the respective committees will conduct fact-checking with the related ministries, agencies, organizations, acts and laws. This is to avoid proposing bills that has already been debated in the Parliament or currently exists. Each committees will then meet up at the Pre-Youth Parliament session, which is two days before the official session to scrutinise and vote for the resolutions that will be brought up at the Youth Parliament session.
The official session takes another two days whereby all 133 APBMs will discuss and debate on the resolutions proposed by the committees. To me, the system of the debate is good as there are no Government nor Opposition. The APBMs will not debate for the sake of debating; but they debate on the relevance and practicality of the proposed resolution instead.
As the Youth Parliament session ends, all the resolutions that has been agreed by the majority of the APBMs will be compiled by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. It will then be brought up to the Malaysian Cabinet Ministers for consideration to implement the ideas of the youth.
Although it is not a platform to make direct decisions for the Government, it encourages youth to think maturely and conduct fact-checking of the information that they receives daily. This should be strengthened and promoted by the APBMs through their engagement programs with their peers.
Despite the loads of information that the youth can source from the internet, a lot of them are unverified news and false claims. The youth may be more matured in the context of quantity of information, but they need to develop themselves to be matured in scrutinizing information.
The Youth Parliament is not platform to discuss on youth issues, but to discuss on national issues from the viewpoint of youth.
This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 16th January 2015.