Kick Start With Youth Parliament

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I believe there are number of you are unaware of the existence of Youth Parliament in United Kingdom, a parliamentary democracy system which our country should look forward and nevertheless to take a lead in enhancing the democracy education policy among the youth.

UK Youth Parliament is just like a real Parliamentary system, a system which involving a campaigning and voting process. In order to become an eligible Member of Youth Parliament (MYP), he must be a resident of UK and aged between 11 and 18 years old. The voters are also the same category of youth as specified herein.

The MYPs have the opportunity to sit in the House of Commons (in our context it is refer to the “Dewan Rakyat”) to debate issues that relate to the youth society across the UK, including Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The constituency is divided according to the number of Local Education Authority (LEA). Each LEA represents a Youth Parliament Constituency.

There are over 250 MYPs in UK presently.

Since the Youth Parliament is given mandate by the UK government in terms of legality and legitimacy, the MYPs do enjoyed certain privileges as the “real MPs”. During the term of office the MYP which represent his own constituency will have opportunities to meet the MP and discuss any issues or campaigns in relation to the constituency.

The most powerful feature of the Youth Parliament is the House of Commons Debate. The MYPs will sit in the House of Commons and debate 4 issues which will be voted by the youth through ballot box and additional 1 issue which is reserved for the Youth Parliament to decide on. Such broad system could ensure the participation of the youth within the country.

Further to that, there are numerous advantages arise from such system and nevertheless could crystallize the demands of the youth society into a focused atmosphere, if our country taking into consideration in implementing it:-

a) Enhancing Participatory Democracy

In Malaysia we have to be at least 21 years old and/or above to exercise our right through the ballot box, as provided under Article 119 Federal Constitution. In short, a Youth Parliament system would enable and empower the “underage” youth to enjoy a voting right. Going further, the youth will be getting a vital participation within the country’s democracy system.

b) Sharpening Sensitivity on National Issues

A reflection from the UK Youth Parliament system has shown us the youth would need to identify and vote for the issues to be carried right to the House of Commons by the MYPs. Voters are one of the sources of democracy power and certainly they will vote for those issues in which are relate to them personally and even to the country. Thus, the youth will be “trained” in an indirect method under such system to identify those important issues and possibly takes further step to undertake personal research.

c) Creating Greater Constitutionalism

Despite the fact that the UK does not has a codified Constitution, we should be glad and proud to have a set of codified supreme law of the land to govern our country, instead of keep pointing all conflicts to the parliamentary supremacy. A well developed Youth Parliament system will create better awareness of  Constitutionalism among the youth, regardless of the secular-islamic issue that has been politicized by the politicians, as an example. The youth will get to know further on how the separation of powers function governed under the Constitution, including the legislator (parliament) role and its power when they participate within this context.

It is worth to note the Ministry of Youth and Sports has actually initiated the implementation of youth parliament this year (2012) and the first sitting trial has took place in Palace of Golden Horses, Seri Kembangan. Although the members were selected based on self-registration or recommendation by political parties or NGOs, I wouldn’t comment much on it due to its fresh starting but the government would need to give more mandate to the youth parliament but not use it as a tool for own propaganda.

A healthy nation democracy system could kick start with a youth parliament, where all the participants are the prospective voters and country leaders sooner or later. Let the youth learn how to in charge of their own country’s democracy and I hope we could transform from representative democracy into direct participatory democracy someday!

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