The Young Democrats (YD) attended the recently held annual congress of the Parti KeAdilan Rakyat (PKR) in Johor Bahru where leaders spoke on readying the party for the general elections expected to be called in Malaysia soon.
The SDP’s youth wing represented by Gerous Khung, Brendan Chong and I attended the event under the invitation of the PKR’s youth wing (Angkatan Muda KeAdilan) leader Shamsul Iskandar. Central Executive Committee member Bryan Lim was also in attendance.
The occasion, attended by about 1,000 members and supporters, was also used to provide a networking platform for youth wings across the region to come together to strengthen ties.
The YD have established strong relations with the AMK and other youth wings in the region through the years. In 2010, the YD organised a workshop to train youth leaders in Asia. The event was attended by more than 20 delegates from Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Nepal, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Singapore.
It was the first time that PKR had held their party congress in Johor, an UMNO stronghold. The event nearly did not take place because of the rejections by many hotels to hold it because they feared angering the ruling party.
Despite the setbacks, the occasion went on with gusto and fire as speaker after speaker from the party’s top leaders to ordinary members took to the podium and called on Malaysians to continue their march towards reform.
One of the highlights was meeting Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim who came to our table to introduce himself. He was humble and statesman-like, nothing like the way the Malaysian press had portrayed him to be.
One of the speakers was Dr Wan Azizah, PKR’s president and wife of Mr Anwar. She fired up the party base calling for the toppling of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) at the next polls.
She rejected the idea that Islam and democracy could not mix and reiterated the PKR’s commitment to building a tolerant and democratic Malaysia. She promised that the PKR would field candidates with principles and not be blinded by money. Several of the MPs had defected to the BN after the last elections.
We spent time with PKR’s youth wing leaders and discussed how our parties could cooperate on future projects on both sides of the Causeway. We talked about the similarity of the PAP and UMNO, and how we could overcome their resistance to building democracy in our countries.
Sharing these experiences was important and it helped us to think more positively in our struggle here in Singapore. The enthusiasm of the party’s youths in Malaysia was infectious. Like them I can say that my fellow Young Democrats and I are ready to work even harder to take back the rights that were stolen from us.
Jufri Salim was the former vice-president of the Young Democrats.