A student movement plans to produce politicians for forthcoming elections to fight established parties, which it says cannot produce future leaders relevant to Malaysians.
By JENNIFER GOMEZ
Published: 21 February 2015 7:00 AM
Fahmi Zainol, the leader of the movement called, Anak Muda Harapan Malaysia (AMHM), said they have met veteran politician Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and diplomats who have agreed to the idea and even offered to help fund the political education programme.
Fahmi said the movement wants to raise politicians who will cease talking along racial lines and promise Malaysians equal rights.
In their few months of existence, the group already has the ear of Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh, or Ku Li, and has met with a foreign diplomat for discussions on democracy, human rights and race relations.
Fahmi said AMHM wants a future where representatives of all ethnic groups will jointly decide on government policies, adding that Bumiputera affirmative action policies were outdated and should be re-looked to determine if they were still necessary.
The group feels that after 57 years of independence, Malaysian leaders should be looking beyond race and religion and target affirmative action policies at the needy, regardless of their colour or creed.
AMHM was born out of the UM8 incident late last year, where eight Universiti Malaya undergraduates were penalised by the university for organising a talk with opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on campus.
Fahmi, the former president of the UM Undergraduates Association, was given the heaviest punishment – a two-semester suspension and RM600 fine.
Fahmi, 24, told The Malaysian Insider that although he was worried about his future and unable to go back to university when the new term began last week, he was busy getting AMHM on track.
He said an open letter the group sent to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last month has pushed them into the limelight and they were getting increasing support from the public.
The letter urged Najib to abolish Malay-centric policies and vernacular schools to ensure a better future for Malaysia.
And although they have yet to hear from the prime minister, they have met Ku Li who is a Kelantan prince and the longest serving Malaysian member of parliament, as well as a foreign diplomat.
“We met Tengku Razaleigh and he offered us support in terms of economic advice and told us he would source for advisers in the other areas that we require.
“He was also very concerned about my expulsion and wanted to know in detail what transpired,” said Fahmi.
In their meeting with the diplomat, he said they discussed issues related to democracy and human rights in Malaysia, and the deteriorating race relations in the country.
A nation divided
According to Fahmi, the diplomat also offered funding to the group, subject to terms agreeable by both parties.
He said the setting up of the group was timely, given that after 57 years of independence, the nation was divided and still bickering along racial lines.
It was high time Malaysia moved towards a more liberal society which promised equal rights and freedom of speech for every citizen, he said.
“In our letter to the prime minister, we expressed hope for a country that will honour every citizen’s freedom of speech because currently, we are being oppressed by our leaders.
“We also want to promote a society which has equal rights, and not have one race dominate over the others,” he said, adding that while it was clear that Islam was the religion of the federation, everyone needed to respect each other’s faith.
For their ideas, the group had come under attack by a Malay rights group Jaringan Melayu Malaysia, which urged the police to investigate AMHM for sedition over their call to abolish Malay privileges.
UM student Zawani Syafiqah, another founding member of AMHM, said that one of her main concerns was the fact that non-Muslims, especially the Chinese, and Malays, were leaving the country in worrying numbers.
“And we are not talking about those at the top who are privileged and highly-educated, even average Malaysians are leaving in search of a better future with all the unhealthy politicking going on here.
“The educated Malays are also leaving,” she added.
Zawani said this was cause for concern as Malaysia could not stand on the strength of just one race, adding that it was the diversity of the different ethnic groups that spurred the nation’s progress.
“But right now, in schools and even in public universities young people are sitting only with people of their own race, this is not healthy,” she said.
Fahmi added that AMHM was not politically aligned to any party, but wanted to be a youth movement that would help develop a generation of future leaders who support the need for the country’s policies to be jointly decided.
“One race cannot decide policies for a multi-ethnic nation, representatives from all backgrounds should be involved in coming up with policies.
“But now we have leaders trying to use the May 13 incident to keep the people divided and we also have ministers asking to boycott the goods of a particular race. This cannot be the way forward,” he said.
Driven by need
Zawani is confident that more youths would join their movement, especially through social media.
She said they have so far recruited 33 members and have set a target of 50 active members by the end of this year who would be committed to running the group’s programmes.
Asked if they would have the stamina and resources for the long haul after they graduated, the duo said they were driven by need, adding that in time to come, movements helmed by veteran activists fighting for social justice would fade away as their leaders aged, citing the example of 80-year-old national laureate Datuk A.Samad Said, the patron of civil society movement Negara-Ku.
As to whether the group’s founders would be inclined to join a political party at some point, neither Fahmi and Zawani replied in the affirmative but aired their opinions on which party appealed to them.
For Fahmi, DAP was most appealing, given how it was professionally run.
“They may have internal politics, but at least they make sure that it does not come out into the open, unlike other political parties.
“I admire that kind of professionalism,” he said.
Zawani, meanwhile, singled out Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) as a party with sound values.
“They may not be popular, but they stay true to their objectives.
“People like Dr Jeyakumar, he walks the talk, I admire people like him,” she said, referring to Sungai Siput MP and PSM central committee member Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj. – February 21, 2015.