37 Fahmi Fadzil
At Rakyat’s Service
“To change our idea of what democracy is, and to make more Malaysians participate in the democratic process,” Fahmi Fadzil says in response to a question of which he is allowed to improve on in Malaysian politics. But to any politicians, it is imperative to always remain in touch with voters and grassroots. When he is on a parliamentary recess, he will be seen patrolling his constituency Lembah Pantai, after succeeding Nurul Izzah Anwar. “You have many opportunities to interact, either via constituency ‘ surgeries’ (direct i nteraction to solve problems), seeing things on the ground for myself, through wedding receptions and funerals, or even by sitting down and chatting with people at a kedai kopi,” the first-term PKR member of parliament elaborates.
Even in a nascent state, the “new” Malaysia has already taken shape. He points out that DBKL and government agencies have become more responsive. To the benefit of Lembah Pantai residents, Fahmi organises monthly town hall sessions to bring both sides to the table. Nonetheless, he confesses there is still much to do, “not least to bring back the third vote, or local government elections. What’s new here will not only be about giving Malaysians the third vote which was denied all these years, but also to embed and ingrain the culture of democracy all the way through to the grassroots level. I hope we realise that democracy doesn’t end when you’ve cast your vote, but that democracy is to be lived and practised each day.”