IN con­junc­tion with SAY IG­NITE 2017 on April 1, the Raja Muda of Se­lan­gor Tengku Amir Shah speaks to AU­DREY VIJAINDREN about his as­pi­ra­tions for youths

New Straits Times - - News -

Ques­tion: What have you been up to since your re­turn from the United King­dom?

An­swer: I came back from the UK last May from be­ing in the mil­i­tary and I am still at­tached with the Royal Malay Reg­i­ment. Since com­ing home, I have been busy set­ting up and ex­e­cut­ing the Se­lan­gor Youth Com­mu­nity (SAY).

I’ve lived abroad for 10 years. I miss home, in­clud­ing the great food here. There are Malaysians all over the world and they learn so much from min­gling with the lo­cals abroad. The youths need to get out of their com­fort zones, but must never for­get that we are Malaysians, first and fore­most.

Q: Tell us about the birth of SAY?

A: Back in 2014, af­ter grad­u­at­ing from the Univer­sity of Leeds in the UK, I had an idea of start­ing a well­ness cen­tre. It was a com­bi­na­tion of sports and a gym­na­sium to pro­mote a healthy life­style. It be­gan with that small idea which ex­posed me to other in­for­ma­tion. The Bos­ton Con­sult­ing Group helped me ex­pand the idea as part of their CSR (cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity) by en­gag­ing with youths in Se­lan­gor through sur­veys and fo­cus group ses­sions.

In Se­lan­gor, 63 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion is be­low the age of 35. We are a young pop­u­la­tion.

Se­lan­gor is the most di­verse state in Malaysia when we look at its eth­nic­ity and back­ground — youths com­ing from ur­ban, semi­ur­ban and ru­ral ar­eas — as a large num­ber of them mi­grated from other states look­ing for op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Klang Val­ley.

I dis­cov­ered there was a huge in­ter­est among youths in arts and cul­ture, mu­sic, sports and en­trepreneur­ship.

There is a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for youths of var­i­ous back­grounds and a wide range of in­ter­ests to co-ex­ist with one an­other.

This is my hope, this is my vision. For Se­lan­gor to thrive, cel­e­brate the dif­fer­ences of one an­other, the new gen­er­a­tion of youths will need to be at the fore­front of this.

The youths are not only our hope for the fu­ture and the lead­ers of tomorrow, but they can be the lead­ers of to­day, to re­alise the hope of the present.

This is why I ini­ti­ated SAY. I be­lieve SAY will pro­vide the spark to unite their pas­sion and spirit in cre­at­ing a dy­namic and con­nected com­mu­nity.

I en­vi­sion a vi­brant and self­mo­ti­vated youth com­mu­nity in Se­lan­gor, churn­ing out tal­ents who can take the world by storm, be it in busi­ness, sports or en­ter­tain­ment. I want us to be the role model for other states and even other coun­tries.

Q: Can you share more about SAY’s ini­tia­tives?

A: SAY is a plat­form for youths from all back­grounds and races, from the grass­roots com­mu­nity to the ones who are more es­tab­lished, to come to­gether, help one an­other to achieve progress.

It acts as the cat­a­lyst and fa­cil­i­ta­tor for fu­ture pro­grammes and ini­tia­tives that can bring a pos­i­tive im­pact to the com­mu­nity.

SAY works closely and fa­cil­i­tates the com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween three im­por­tant par­ties — the gov­ern­ment, cor­po­rate sec­tor and the youths them­selves.

Youths are full of en­ergy and ideas. The cor­po­rate sec­tor will have the re­sources and ex­per­tise, while the gov­ern­ment plays an im­por­tant role through its poli­cies to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment where the youths can flour­ish.

SAY is a plat­form for me to en­gage with the com­mu­nity, par­tic­u­larly the youths. It is my ul­ti­mate fo­cus and pri­or­ity at this point of time.

Through this, I will find ways and ideas on how to make the youth com­mu­nity in Se­lan­gor thrive.

We are start­ing small, but with a big heart, putting in a lot of ef­fort, plus co­op­er­a­tion with all par­ties, in­clud­ing the cor­po­rate and gov­ern­ment sec­tors, I be­lieve we can achieve some­thing big to­gether in the medium to longterm fu­ture. Q: Can you elab­o­rate on SAY’s 3Cs con­cept (con­nec­tiv­ity, ca­pac­ity-build­ing and collaboration)?


SAY’s mis­sion is to fa­cil­i­tate the 3Cs, namely con­nec­tiv­ity, ca­pac­ity-build­ing and collaboration, among youths in Se­lan­gor, and to pro­vide a plat­form to con­nect them with de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

This will then be aligned with the state’s Smart Se­lan­gor ini­tia­tive and the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment-led Trans­for­masi Na­sional 2050 (TN50) that aims to trans­form Malaysia into a na­tion of cal­i­bre, with a new mind­set.

We see both the Se­lan­gor gov­ern­ment and the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment hav­ing great ini­tia­tives, but un­for­tu­nately, they aren’t aligned. I be­lieve, through SAY, I can help fa­cil­i­tate this com­mu­ni­ca­tion and align­ment.

Q: What are some of the lim­i­ta­tions that youths face to­day?

A: In to­day’s dig­i­tal age where ev­ery­one is con­nected (in the so­cial me­dia), we have to learn to

un­der­stand and edit (false in­for­ma­tion) be­cause spread­ing in­for­ma­tion holds a re­spon­si­bil­ity. You could end up spread­ing fake news.

My ad­vice to them is to al­ways be care­ful and al­ways do your home­work and back­ground checks. Also, there should be the need to al­ways learn, progress and give back to your na­tion.

Q: Can you ex­plain some of SAY’s planned ac­tiv­i­ties?

A: SAY IG­NITE 2017 will be the first of its kind. The plan is for us to do this ev­ery year — to cel­e­brate the youths, namely those who have been cham­pi­oning causes and the un­sung he­roes.

We hope to have mo­ti­va­tional talks where we share their ex­pe­ri­ences, their ex­per­tise and train­ing, and learn what it takes to get to where they are now.

We want to share ideas and en­able youths to im­part their knowl­edge and ideas to stu­dents in schools. We want youths to en­gage other youths in pos­i­tive and sim­i­lar ideas and ac­tiv­i­ties.

SAY IG­NITE 2017, to be held on April 1, is one of the many ini­tia­tives planned and or­gan­ised by SAY to foster in­ter­est and in­crease youths’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in com­mu­nity-based ac­tiv­i­ties cover­ing arts and cul­ture, en­ter­tain­ment, en­trepreneur­ship, sports and health.

SAY IG­NITE 2017 will have ac­tiv­i­ties in these four fo­cus ar­eas. We aim to help un­earth tal­ent at the grass­roots level and pro­vide a plat­form where youths can con­vey their ideas and give their in­put on is­sues re­lated to their gen­er­a­tion.

The pro­grammes will in­clude work­shops, mo­ti­va­tional talks and a tal­ent com­pe­ti­tion among the many di­verse ac­tiv­i­ties.

The work­shops and talks will be con­ducted by SAY’s strate­gic part­ners from the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors, while the tal­ent com­pe­ti­tion, aptly named “Se­lan­gor Youth (SAY) Ada Gaya”, is loosely based on the Bri­tain’s Got

Tal­ent tele­vi­sion pro­gramme. Con­tes­tants have to be be­tween 18 and 35, ei­ther born, re­sid­ing or work­ing in Se­lan­gor and they will be re­quired to sub­mit video en­tries. The best 10 en­tries will per­form at the semi­fi­nal stage and the top three will be se­lected to per­form at SAY IG­NITE 2017.

In ad­di­tion, SAY has taken a gi­ant step to­wards cre­at­ing a new set of en­trepreneurs and lead­ers through a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with Hi­jrah Se­lan­gor, a state pro­gramme to pro­vide fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to bud­ding en­trepreneurs.

The part­ner­ship will help to fur­ther im­prove and en­hance the dis­burse­ments of mi­cro-cred­its to youths in Se­lan­gor, and pro­vide them with op­por­tu­ni­ties to suc­ceed in their busi­ness en­deav­ours.

Q: What do you hope from this pro­gramme?

A: Firstly, my hope is that youths will get in­volved in health­ier and more con­struc­tive ac­tiv­i­ties, which will ben­e­fit them.

SAY is one of the many plat­forms

to do this, and I hope we will be­come the cat­a­lyst for many other pro­grammes and ac­tiv­i­ties to come. I would like to see other states pick up the con­cept and get the pri­vate sec­tor in­volved.

As a na­tion, we have de­vel­oped so far and the pri­vate sec­tor has be­come so big. There­fore, ev­ery­one has to take own­er­ship and be in charge and en­gage with the youths and share their as­pi­ra­tions.

Se­lan­gor achieved the sta­tus of

Negeri Maju in 2005, way be­fore other states did. But the key ques­tion is: what is the next step for us? What is our next vision?

I dream that one day Se­lan­gor folk would have a com­mon pur­pose and cause. A pur­pose that ev­ery­one be­lieves in and is will­ing to put in the nec­es­sary ef­forts to re­alise it.

That dream should never be mine alone but some­thing that all Se­lan­gor folk have and can con­trib­ute to. I want to hear di­rectly from the youths, learn from the grass­roots and cham­pi­ons of the com­mu­nity to ex­plore how we can work to­gether to char­ter our new goals and achieve them to­gether as one.

Q: You have been a bit vo­cal about the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion of Se­lan­gor (FAS). What are your thoughts on this?

A: We all know that sports is per­haps the strong­est unit­ing fac­tor not just in our coun­try, but all over the world.

Our na­tion, par­tic­u­larly the younger gen­er­a­tion, is be­com­ing more and more pas­sion­ate about sports and it gives me and my fa­ther great sat­is­fac­tion to see peo­ple from dif­fer­ent races and all walks of life sup­port­ing our state team in the sta­dium.

I am not in­volved di­rectly with FAS and don’t have any plans to be. I hap­pen to be the most in­flu­en­tial Se­lan­gor sup­porter who is voic­ing out con­struc­tive crit­i­cism

for the bet­ter­ment of our beloved team.

The com­ments I made on so­cial me­dia were done af­ter en­gag­ing with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers, from the sup­port­ers to my fa­ther him­self.

That be­ing said, I have en­gaged with the lead­er­ship of FAS. I am happy to play a role be­hind the scenes.

While I un­der­stand their sit­u­a­tion, I strongly em­pha­sised the need to im­prove the sit­u­a­tion in a whole­some man­ner. This in­cludes the de­vel­op­ment part of our sport, in­clud­ing grass­roots level, youth and com­mu­nity foot­ball.

This is the in­vest­ment that we need to make in terms of re­sources and ef­forts. Whole­some changes must be made and I do hope that the lead­er­ship of FAS can carry this out for the sus­tain­abil­ity and bet­ter­ment of foot­ball in Se­lan­gor for the sake of the fans, the main stake­hold­ers.

I will not hes­i­tate to take the cur­rent FAS lead­er­ship to task if there are no changes as promised.

Re­mem­ber that the fans are the most im­por­tant el­e­ment in any team and with­out them, we are noth­ing.

Through SAY, we or­gan­ised a tour­na­ment called Se­lan­gor Cham­pi­ons League last year where we com­bined all the cham­pi­ons of the var­i­ous so­cial foot­ball leagues in the Klang Val­ley to play in one pres­ti­gious com­pe­ti­tion.

It was very well re­ceived. So, this year, we have ex­panded it and started an ini­tia­tive called “Foot­ball Se­lan­gor”, where our am­bi­tion is to el­e­vate the sta­tus of foot­ball in the state through em­pow­er­ing the com­mu­nity and work­ing closely with part­ners, par­tic­u­larly the pri­vate sec­tor.

Do keep a look­out for the de­vel­op­ment of this ex­cit­ing ini­tia­tive.

The youths are not only our hope for the fu­ture and the lead­ers of tomorrow, but they can be the lead­ers of to­day, to re­alise the hope of the present.

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