Time flies. I was preparing to leave for Brussels with butterflies in my stomach just yesterday, or so it seemed, and now I am back in Singapore. It was a wild and wonderful journey that opened my eyes to the endless opportunities open to Singapore, if only…
But I am getting ahead of myself. I am just really happy to have had this opportunity to experience first hand and up close international democratic politics in Europe for the last three months.
For those who have not been following my reports, I have just completed a internship in the European Parliament via a programme organised by the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD).
Being a member of the Young Democats I felt there was an urgent need to expand my understanding of the world of politics and the issues that revolves around it. I applied for the stint and, as they say, the rest is history.
I had no idea of what was expected of me and the kind of work that I would be handling. It turned out to be one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I organised seminars, summarised a report for the OECD, wrote research notes for MEPs, performed data mining and contributed to numerous meetings and briefings.
I even attended a meeting between the government of Sri Lanka and members of the European Parliament in which there was a negotiation on bilateral relations between EU and Sri Lanka.
I must say that having been brought up in an authoritarian political system where policies are forced down the throats of citizens, coming to the European Parliament was something of a culture shock.
Although it has its own problems, the politics in Europe is based on a system that practices genuine consultation before final decisions are taken. Everyone’s views are taken on board and, where feasible, incorporated. The means that compromises are made for the sake of the best policy being put forward. It’s a process I really admire.
I managed to meet with two Members of the European Parliament (MEP): Mr Graham Watson from UK and Mr Ramon Tremosa Balcells from Catalonia. I discussed with them the political situation in Singapore and also raised the issue of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
I also managed to take time off to travel to London where I met a few Singaporeans. I was exploring the possibility of the Singapore Democrats setting up a club for Singaporeans based in London.
I was also looking to see if some form of internship with the Liberal Democrats in the UK could be worked out. (Note: The SDP is expected to visit the Lib Dems in London in September 2010 and we hope to look further into this idea.)
The multi-cultural environment was also a positive aspect of the internship. Being in contact with other
stagiaires (interns) coming from different parts of the world, I learnt a lot of new ideas from them and appreciate the differences from different parts of the world.
The three months in Brussels was a personal achievement for me. Having an eye witness account of the decision-making process in the European Parliament and being able to contribute in my own small way was invaluable to me.
But it doesn’t stop there. I want my experience to benefit the SDP and its future.
YD Muhd Shamin’s earlier report on his internship:
Young Democrat off for 3-month stint in European Parliament
SDP: Mr Shamin has done the Singapore Democrats proud. The SDP is committed to providing maximum exposure for our youth members to train and develop themselves. We do this by sending them for conferences and workshops overseas as well as organise events locally.
As a result, our young members continue to grow in confidence and leadership qualities. The YD’s ranks are constantly expanding. It augurs well for the future of the SDP and Singapore.
The leaders of tomorrow begin their dvelopment right now. That’s our philosophy. We encourage young Singaporeans to take advantage of this opportunity and to come forward and serve the country as a Young Democrat.
We have a series of exciting on-going and up-coming events:
- YD council member Mr Teo Tian Jing is currently in Strasbourg, France to attend a one-week conference on Informal Education and Human Rights, organised by the International Federation for Liberal Youth. (Hon Secretary Mr Jarrod Luo was recently in the Philippines to witness election campaigning there.)
- Two Young Democrats, Mr Muhd Khalis and Mr Kao Wensheng, have applied to participate in a three-week course on Human Rights in Asia that will be held in Kwangju, South Korea in May 2010. This event is organised by the Korean Foundation for Democracy.
- May will be a busy month, as the Young Democrats will host a four-day workshop (May 20-24) organised by the Young Liberal and Democrats of Asia (YLDA). We hope to include participants from other youth organisations in Singapore.
- The Young Democrats will also be attending the World Youth Movement which will be held in Mexico in August 2010. We will keep readers updated.
- We are looking into the possibility of bringing to Singapre another Asian youth seminar in October this year.
Come join the
Young Democrats and start building the future Singapore that we all want to see.