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I had joined the Singapore Democratic Party about a year and a half ago. In this time I have witnessed the growth in the party and especially its youth wing, the Young Democrats.
Not only have we grown in terms of numbers but also political experience as a result of attending workshops and conferences, both locally and overseas. The most notable event was Muhammad Shamin’s internship at the European Parliament.
For myself, I have had the chance to observe a by-election in Penang at the invitation of Anwar Ibrahim’s
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People’s Justice Party). I had also attended a conference in Manila, meeting with President Noynoy Aquino who was then a presidential candidate.
These trips overseas for conferences and meetings are crucial not only in the YDs gaining political experience but also acquiring knowledge and networking.
For example, during my visit to the Philippines, I had the opportunity to meet Dr Wilfrido Villacorta, former Deputy Secretary of ASEAN. I learned about the framework of ASEAN and how policies made by governments of the member states affected other ASEAN countries. This allowed me to learn a little bit more about foreign relations and our Government’s foreign policy.
By observing and also taking part in some of the organisational activities, I have also learned the ins and outs of teamwork. There are many aspects to managing a project, and leading a group of people and organsing them takes a certain amount of know-how.
At the policy level, we are also exposed to the differing viewpoints of bilateral issues. One example is the banning of sand to Singapore from Indonesia and the reluctance of Singapore to return Indonesian money stolen and brought to Singapore during the fall of Suharto.
Some of us in YD had the opportunity to discuss this issue with Indonesian MPs, and we saw how important it was for governments to cooperate with each other and how compromise can benefit both nations
We also have the opportunity to examine how policies such as Minimum Wage work in other countries. We are able to discuss with some of our counterparts some of the advantages and disadvantagees of such a policy. I came away convinced that Minimum Wage can work in Singapore.
All in all, I believe that SDP has done the right thing in sending our youth members for regional workshop and conferences. The exposure to international politics will put our party in good stead in the years to come.
I am still learning in my political journey and I urge youths in Singapore to join me in that journey.
Muhd Khalis is a member of the Young Democrats.