Note: This event coverage is for informational purposes only. MONGA is not affiliated with any political party mentioned in this article.
YB = Yang Berhormat (Honorable)
MP = Member of Parliament
GE15 = 15th Malaysian general election
The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 has shifted the national and state elections voting age from 21 to 18 years old, potentially introducing a total of 5.8 million new voters on the ballot. Built upon comprehending the significance of this change, Monash Political Awareness Club (MONPAC) was founded this year to create a space for Monash students to equip themselves with knowledge about Malaysian and global politics.
Despite being a newly established club, ‘Meet Your MPs’ panel session would be their third event this semester. Panel members that were invited include YB Wong Chen (Subang MP), YB Teresa Kok (Seputeh MP) and YB Fahmi Fadzil (Lembah Pantai MP). The purpose behind this event was to provide the audience with an opportunity to ask any burning questions they may have regarding GE15, democracy, or the Malaysian political landscape in general.
The panel session took place on 22 September 2022, from 4:15 – 6:00 p.m. at Auditorium 1. All Monash students and staff members were welcomed to attend, either by registering their attendance online beforehand or through walk-ins. The event turnout rate was impressive, with eager students filling up half the auditorium. An admirable feat considering that it was held during Week 9.
To kickstart the event, the club’s president, Chester Chan, began with a short speech detailing the inspiration behind the club as well as highlighting the importance of raising political awareness among youths. After the speech, the club’s event manager took the lead in asking questions to the panel. Several issues regarding the political scene were addressed including the issue of brain drain which refers to the high percentage of highly qualified Malaysians that wish to leave the country, usually by students who study overseas and do not return. As a response to this question, YB Fahmi Fadzil stated that if presented with the opportunity, it is advisable for students to explore the world and learn from other countries so that they could bring that knowledge back to Malaysia. He also recalls his personal experience in the United States and how that has helped him shape his characters and inspired him to make a difference in the country.
Another issue brought up was fake news and how that could influence the results of the election. YB Teresa Kok took the lead in sharing her negative experience with fake news which caused her to be arrested and detained in a high-security prison. To summarise, the MPs encouraged the public to be wary of false information and attentively conduct their research before and during the election period. They also urged everyone to watch parliament meetings and intern with parliament members if they have the chance.
After an hour of fruitful discussions, the panel was open for questions from the audience. A QR code was provided on the screen for students to send their questions anonymously. Alternatively, they could raise their hand and ask the questions directly to the MP’s through a microphone. The political enthusiasm of students was clear as questions kept piling up.
There were also students seeking advice on how to win the upcoming MUSA election. The words of wisdom imparted include telling the running parties to take time and truly question what do Monash students want and work from there. They also recommended researching the reasons why students drop out of Monash and find solutions to combat this issue.
Despite the large influx of questions, the common one was about how to restore hope and trust back to the government. As a response, the MPs acknowledged the concerns that the students may have regarding the fairness of the general elections and encouraged students to volunteer as polling agents. This is to give students a chance to witness democracy in action as they can monitor the elections and remove any doubts regarding foul play during the election. For the students that wish to assist in raising political awareness, they are encouraged to share credible information on their social media.
The final piece of wisdom imparted by the MPs was for all eligible Malaysians to vote!
Written by Natasha
Photos by Yang Thong Chen