Q&A (English + BM): Qyira Yusri & Tharma Pillai (#Undi18) membincangkan penurunan had umur mengundi

Qyira Yusri dan Tharma Pillai merupakan pengasas Undi 18, sebuah projek anjuran Malaysian Students’ Global Alliance yang menjadi pemangkin kepada penurunan umur mengundi minima daripada 21 tahun kepada 18 tahun.

Dalam post ini, mereka membincangkan pendapat tentang topik Dialog Pendidikan untuk bulan ini: Apakah yang dapat dilakukan di sekolah untuk membangunkan pengundi yang bertanggungjawab?

= Qyira Yusri and Tharma Pillai are the founders of Undi 18, a project under the anjuran Malaysian Students’ Global Alliance that catalysed the lowering of the minimum voting age from 21 years to 18 years.

In this post, they share some reflections about this month’s Dialog Pendidikan topic: “How can schools contribute to the development of responsible voters?


Tell us why you do what you do.

THARMA: Pada Pilihanraya Umum ke-13, saya tidak dapat mengundi. Saya berumur 20 tahun pada masa tersebut. Saya masih ingat, perasaan marah dan dukacita yang dirasa kerana tidak dapat mengundi. Saya terpaksa menunggu sehingga berumur 25 tahun sebelum mendapat peluang untuk mengundi. Perjuangan saya adalah supaya tiada lagi anak Malaysia terpaksa menghadapi belenggu yang sama.

Saya memulakan Undi18, kerana saya percaya bahawa perjuangan untuk menurunkan had umur mengundi adalah sesuatu yang harus dilakukan, namun tiada siapa yang memperjuangkannya. Undi18 bukanlah sesuatu permintaan yang radikal. Ia adalah polisi common sense yang sepatutnya kita dah lama laksanakan. Hanya tinggal 5 negara di dunia yang masih mengekalkan umur mengundi sebagai 21 tahun.

Jika kita benar-benar serius dalam agenda membina negara yang lebih hebat, maka kita wajib memperkasakan anak muda kita. Berikan mereka ruang dan peluang bersuara. Biarlah mereka belajar bagaimana untuk menggunakan suara mereka ke arah kebaikan.

QYIRA: A lot of my work since I was in uni involved student welfare and professional development, especially for Malaysian students abroad. As a student leader, it was natural that a lot of the discourse centered on current events in Malaysia. These conversations inevitably turned on the desire to make Malaysia a place that we want to return to.

I was also aware that it was not enough to complain about the situation in Malaysia without doing something about it. Especially when I knew I was in a position of privilege. Being privately funded and studying abroad, I was not affected by the UUCA law that restricted Malaysian students from being politically active (which included commenting on government policies).

Ever since I was involved in youth advocacy, I’ve met youths from diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic levels. I became really interested to hear and understand the Malaysia that I felt distant from while I was living abroad as a teenager.

Can you tell us about one experience from your schooling days that shaped your political views?

QYIRA: My mother is a teacher in a government school in Miri, Sarawak. She was the only teacher that taught pendidikan khas for kids under 8, so I often volunteered in her school whenever I was in the afternoon session.

The students that came through her school were often from low income families, many had parents who didn’t understand the learning difficulties that their children had. They were entitled to receive allowances and welfare from the government, but these would often come in late or not at all. I grew up seeing my mother marching up and down PPD to demand for the rights of her students.

I realized then that the world isn’t fair, and that people in power needed to be kept accountable.

What have you done in helping students learn about voting responsibly?

QYIRA: We are official partners of the Ministry of Youth and Sports for their “Sekolah Rukun Negara” program. “Sekolah Rukun Negara” or the “National Principles School” is a nationwide program where facilitators, who are appointed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, run student camps to deliver education modules such as patriotism, critical thinking, media literacy, and voter literacy.

The modules presented by #Undi18 are about Youth Democracy, where we teach young students how to express their opinions, think critically, and debate government policies. In the first rollout beginning in August 2019, we are expected to reach up to 5000 high school students.

THARMA: Qyira telah menjelaskan inisiatif semasa kami dengan jelas. Langkah seterusnya adalah untuk memperkembangkan program Demokrasi Belia kami kepada lebih banyak sekolah dan universiti. Harapan kami adalah untuk menganjurkan lebih banyak bengkel, seminar dan juga kelas online untuk memudahkan anak muda untuk belajar tentang proses demokrasi dan memahami polisi negara.

Kami ingin mengambil langkah ke hadapan secara sistematik. Jika ada peluang, kami ingin melakukan program pendidikan demokrasi secara berstruktur, supaya kita mampu menjejaki dan mengukur paras pemahaman dan pembelajaran peserta program.

Based on suggestions in the Pengenalan, what is one quick change that schools can do in the short term, and what is a bigger change you’d like to see in the long term?

QYIRA: I’d like to see the formation of Student Unions (in a university’s Senate) as well as student elections in public schools. I don’t believe that formal education is a determinant for someone to have the right to vote. That being said, formal institutions like schools and universities need to put in place avenues for students to voice their opinions freely without the fear of being penalised.

I believe student elections will also encourage youth leadership to blossom as well giving students a glimpse of how an election could be.

THARMA: Untuk jangka masa pendek, saya mencadangkan agar pihak sekolah dan universiti menggunakan debat dan pengucapan awam dalam pelan pengajaran dan pembelajaran. Kita perlu membiasakan pelajar untuk berfikir secara kritis, memahami hujah dari kedua-dua belah dan menyuarakan pendapat dengan tenang, jelas dan membina.

Untuk jangka masa panjang pula, kita perlu mewujudkan pelan pendidikan yang melindungi kebebasan bersuara dan bersekutu untuk para pelajar. Kita perlu meminda atau memansuhkan undang-undang bersifat menindas seperti AUKU, yang diwujudkan untuk mengekang politik mahasiswa dan mengawal pergerakan pelajar. Universiti seharusnya menjadi pusat ilmu untuk tokoh pemikir dan mahasiswa berdebat dan berfikir secara bebas, dan bukannya hanya menjadi pusat ijazah.

What is one thing you’d like to say to teachers?

QYIRA: Have hope that the students under your care have the ability to make decisions. 18-year-olds are adults in the eyes of the law, and it’s important to grant them the responsibility to be adults, which includes the right to vote. The great thing about the #Undi18 amendment is that we have a few more years before the next election, which gives schools and educators ample time to prepare students for it. We need to be open to having these conversations now.

THARMA: It’s time to trust your students to discuss difficult topics. When I was growing up, I had a few teachers tell me that I just need to focus on studies, instead of discussing politics or debating national policies. That mindset needs to change. We need young Malaysians to be treated and taught like potential voters.

What is one thing you’d like first-time voters to know?

QYIRA: Have faith in YOURSELF! Casting a vote is not simply choosing BN over PH. It’s about taking a stance on an issue in your community. Voting is about looking at the situation around you and giving you the decision to speak up and make a change about it.

THARMA: Kalau anda rasa tidak yakin tentang nak undi untuk siapa atau parti politik mana yang bagus, jangan risau. Langkah pertama yang perlu ada ambil adalah untuk belajar. Maklumat hanya di hujung jari, maka ambillah peluang. Bacalah tentang politik negara. Belajarlah tentang polisi sosio ekonomi di negara luar. Dan fikir jika sesuatu polisi sesuai dipraktikkan di Malaysia. Berfikir secara kritis, berlandaskan ilmu akan menjadikan anda informed voter.

Tetapi, yang paling penting adalah untuk yakin dengan diri. Anda tidak perlu menjadi Professor Sains Politik untuk mengundi. Demokrasi adalah untuk semua.


Jika anda ditanya soalan di asas, apakah jawapan anda? Kongsi pendapat anda di bawah (nama, e-mel, dan website tidak wajib), mengikut polisi komen kami.

Untuk maklumat yang lebih lanjut tentang cara mengasuh bakal pengundi, rujuk post Pengenalan kami, “Apakah satu perkara yang dapat dilakukan oleh pihak sekolah untuk menyediakan muda-mudi Malaysia untuk mengundi secara bertanggungjawab?” Petikan komen daripada rencana tempatan dan luar negara tentang topik ini dihimpunkan dalam post Apa Kata.

Minggu depan, kami akan merumuskan perbincangan ini dalam post Synopsis. Terima kasih!

If someone asked you those questions, how would you answer? Share your thoughts below, and please remember to follow our comments policy. (It is not compulsory to include your name, email, and website in order to comment.)

For more discussion about developing responsible voters, see our Pengenalan post, “What is one thing that schools can do to prepare young Malaysians to vote responsibly?” And for a selection of quotes from Malaysian and international articles about this topic, see our Apa Kata post. For more comments, visit our Facebook page.

And look out for our synopsis post next week. Thank you!

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