YLDA workshop: Motivation needs more than money

Wu Rui Qiang

I was one of the participants at the Young Liberals and Democrats of Asia’s (YLDA) workshop that was held in Singapore over the weekend. My compatriot Muhd Khalis had talked a little bit about some of the events that went on at the beginning of the programme. I’ll briefly fill in the rest here.

Day 2 started off with the topic on organization hierarchy where participants were exposed to the art of handling one’s boss. Participants were given hands on training on how to handle different types of bosses. Given that different organisations had different types of hierarchical systems, it was important for youths to be exposed to different types of supervisors and to be able to adapt to, and get the best out of the various situations one found oneself in. 

The session then went on to discuss office politics where the participants came up with skits to depict stuff that went on in the office: office romance, office gossip and team work. Youths tend to run up against such situations that might cause friction between workers and it was good that we gained some training to see how such scenarios would be effectively handled.

Next up was risk and conflict management. The subject was less dry than the title suggested. The organisers came up with creative ways on approaching the topic.

For example, one of the exercises was for the participants to resolve an “end of world” event. Two groups had to compete and vie for the “magic fruit” which would save humanity. It was a frantic session where one group tried to outdo the other to gain the upperhand.

In the end, the competing groups came to an amicable agreement over the best solution to save the world. It comprise obviously needed scarifice to be made by both parties and a certain amount of trust and cooperation were needed. It sort of reminded me of how this was lacking among the opposition in Singapore.  

There was an invited guest, Mr Lai Mun Loon, who talked about mobilizing and motivating volunteers. Unfortunately, his presentation was catered more for the charity-type organisations rather than political ones. The goals and approaches of these two types of organisations are rather different.

But the presenter more than made up for the content by delivering a rather inspirational presentation and this was  well-received by the participants.

The final session of the day was an activity for self assessment, for each participant to think and share the many things that motivates them in life. Of course there was the usual – money, satisfaction, pressure, but one thing to note was that for many of the Young Democrats, it was our personal experience of living under oppression that motivates us to take a more active role in politics.

Money is not the most powerful motivator of human behaviour, unlike what the PAP believes. Yes, we need financial security but beyond that there must be something that youths look for that cannot be bought by monetary reward.

This is what I think is lacking in Singapore. Everything is controlled and young people are just told what to do and to toe the line. Everyone just keeps their heads down and mouths shut. This system does not motivate and inspire youths.

On the third day, participants had to coordinate and plan for an international event with a given amount of budget. It was a chance for team planning as different tasks could be split up to the people with the right expertise in different areas. It was an interesting learning experience on how to work under pressure, with limited time and resources to come up with a good proposal for the event.

Next up, we discussed about how to contribute and be accountable to the improvement of our parent organisations. We discussed how each of us could further the cause of our own organisations. True to an event run by youths, participants created their personal pledge not on paper but on a wall post of “YLDA workshop in Singapore 2010”

All in all this workshop was fruitful and fun, but the biggest takeaway from it is the strengthening of the YLDA network and the solidarity among its members. It is this solidarity and training such as this that would further the democratic movement in Asia.

Wu Rui Qiang is a member of the Young Democrats

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