Manila, Philip­pin es

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.AGE -

The par­tic­i­pants were in­tro­duced to sev­eral out­stand­ing in­di­vid­u­als who are also Ra­mon Magsaysay Award (of­ten re­ferred to as the No­bel Prize of Asia) re­cip­i­ents, and one of them was 63-year-old An­to­nio Meloto, the man be­hind the “work with the poor” NGO, Gawad Kalinga (which means “giv­ing care” in Ta­ga­log).

Meloto, or Tito Tony, as he is af­fec­tion­ally re­ferred to, had risen from the squat­ters of Ba­colod city in the Philip­pines to at­tend the Ate­neo de Manila Univer­sity on a schol­ar­ship, even­tu­ally carv­ing a suc­cess­ful ca­reer for him­self in the print­ing busi­ness.

Hap­pily mar­ried with five kids, Meloto was liv­ing a com­fort­able life as an up­per mid­dle class cit­i­zen, but he could not for­get the squalid en­vi­ron­ment he grew up in, as well as the thou­sands, if not mil­lions, of peo­ple who are still liv­ing in poverty and strug­gling to sur­vive.

In 1995, Meloto em­barked on his dream to help the un­der­priv­i­leged by found­ing Gawad Kalinga with a vi­sion that the Philip­pines would be­come a first world na­tion by 2024.

Nine­teen years later, thanks to Meloto and his team’s hard work, Gawad Kalinga has built com­mu­ni­ties across the Philip­pine ar­chi­pel­ago and is re­ferred to by lo­cals as the most trusted NGO in the na­tion.

How­ever, it wasn’t all smooth-sail­ing for Meloto. When he first started the project, there were doubters who asked, “Why would one in­vest in a land and let ex-con­victs build homes on it?” Meloto, of course, proved them wrong. Cor­po­ra­tions do­nated, peo­ple vol­un­teered and Gawad Kalinga be­came a world­wide move­ment that has pos­i­tively af­fected other coun­tries like Pa­pua New Guinea and Aus­tralia.

The youth sum­mit pro­vided an av­enue for the par­tic­i­pants to col­lab­o­rate and learn and on the fi­nal day of the sum­mit, the par­tic­i­pants pro­duced ideas for in­no­va­tive projects that will not only ben­e­fit their re­spec­tive coun­tries but the re­gion as well.

On top of that, they also de­signed a frame­work to sus­tain the Asean youth net­work in years to come.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the LEAD Asean Youth Sum­mit, visit face­book. com/LEADASEANYouthSum­mit. FOR many years, young Malaysians have lamented

the way they do not have a say in how the coun­try is

run. Well, that ex­cuse will not be valid come April next year.

Now, with the es­tab­lish­ment of the first Youth Par­lia­ment in the coun­try, Malaysian youth will have the op­por­tu­nity to not only share their views, but

also that of the young peo­ple in their area to the gov­ern­ment and ser­vice providers.

The Youth Par­lia­ment, which was an­nounced by Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak in 2011, al­ready has over 70,000 reg­is­tered vot­ers and is ex­pected

to ac­com­mo­date over 200,000 vot­ers by the end of the first quar­ter of 2014.

Youth and Sports Min­is­ter Khairy Ja­malud­din said at a re­cent ses­sion in De­wan Rakyat that the Youth Par­lia­ment will en­cour­age po­lit­i­cal open-mind­ed­ness among the youth, and is cer­tainly not bound to any po­lit­i­cal par­ties or af­fil­i­a­tions.

He said the main ob­jec­tive of set­ting up the par­lia­ment is to en­cour­age young peo­ple to get in­volved

in the na­tion’s par­lia­men­tary democ­racy sys­tem and

is not tar­geted at nur­tur­ing po­lit­i­cal lean­ings.

Khairy added that he wishes the young peo­ple in­volved in the Youth Par­lia­ment have im­par­tial minds, and to be able to de­bate on any topic with no po­lit­i­cal bias. The Malaysian Youth Par­lia­ment will be one of

the over 30-plus youth par­lia­ments ac­tive around the world, and it’s aim is to act as a chan­nel for young

peo­ple to air their views and opin­ions per­tain­ing to youths as well as cre­ate a plat­form for youth lead­er­ship. This will also cre­ate an op­por­tu­nity for cur­rent

lead­ers to gain insight to youth life­style and trends.

The Malaysian Youth Par­lia­ment is cur­rently open vot­ers reg­is­tra­tion, through which its 191 rep­re­sen­ta­tives will be se­lected next year. Malaysian cit­i­zens aged 15 to 40 are el­i­gi­ble to

reg­is­ter as vot­ers, al­though Youth Par­lia­ment mem­bers

must be be­tween 18 and 30 years old.

The rep­re­sen­ta­tives will be se­lected based on states and not the num­ber of par­lia­men­tary con­stituen­cies

in the coun­try.

Khairy rea­soned that the de­ci­sion was made be­cause there are some par­lia­men­tary con­stituen­cies with

less than 50 reg­is­tered vot­ers, thus mak­ing the fair rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Malaysian youth seem in­ac­cu­rate.

The nom­i­na­tions for Youth Par­lia­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives will be in Fe­bru­ary while the first sit­ting is ten­ta­tively sched­uled for April next year.

The cri­te­ria to se­lect a Youth Par­lia­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive in­cludes de­bat­ing, lead­er­ship skills, par­tic­i­pa­tion

in com­mu­nity-based pro­grammes and, of course, a clean crim­i­nal record.

Can­di­dates must also have a wide knowl­edge in lo­cal, so­cial, eco­nomic and in­ter­na­tional is­sues.

Vot­ing will be car­ried out online si­mul­ta­ne­ously na­tion­wide, with an in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant as­signed through open ten­der to au­dit the Youth Par­lia­ment votes next year.

Go to www.par­li­men­be­lia.gov.my to reg­is­ter as a voter and/or to nom­i­nate a Youth Par­lia­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

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