Parlimen Digital powered by Microsoft Teams enables youth across Malaysia, including rural and indigenous communities, to take part in the nation-building discourse.
KUALA LUMPUR, 17 July 2020 – The world’s first Parlimen Digital (Digital Parliament) initiated by youth, saw 222 youth representatives reflecting the federal seats in Malaysia convene for a two-day debate session to discuss and pass new “laws” and “policies” on economic and education issues affecting youth in the country via the online platform. The virtual parliamentary seating which was powered by Microsoft Teams emulated an actual sitting including voting and passing of bills. The session was streamed live on 4 and 5 July 2020, recording more than 200,000 viewers for both days.
The virtual event was organized by youth-led non-government organizations namely Challenger Malaysia, Undi 18, Liga Rakyat Demokratik and United Nations Association Malaysia (UNAM) Youth.
“Parlimen Digital served as an important outlet for youth to express their thoughts and engage in Malaysia’s policy-making and nation-building exercise. There was increased conversation particularly among young Malaysians taking part in the virtual session throughout the two-day session on social media. By providing access to youth and digitalizing democracy, we can encourage greater youth participation in the process,” said Tharma Pillai, co-founder of Undi18.
“By going digital, we were also able to ensure greater inclusivity and diversity, with every socio-economic background and culture of Malaysia represented. A total of 30 percent of the seats were represented by women while 64 percent of the East Malaysia seats were elected from the indigenous community. We also had young representatives from the Orang Asli communities and youth living with disabilities. As a result, this enabled a more robust and informed discussion touching on pertinent issues affecting the nation’s multi-racial society,” Tharma added.
On the first day, the members of parliament had touched on a wide range of ideas relating to the economic issues, specifically about the digital economy and the need to raise digital literacy. Discussion on the second day was focused on digitalizing education, with emphasis on strategies to enhance accessibility to Malaysians from the B40 (bottom 40 percent) communities, young people living with disabilities as well as young migrants, stateless children, and other vulnerable communities.
While the application was opened to Malaysians between the age of 15 and 35 years old, the average age of the ‘elected’ representatives was 21 years old. Parlimen Digital received an overwhelming response, with nearly 6,300 young Malaysians applying for the 222 constituency seats. Of the total applications, more than 1,500 were submitted within 24 hours when the registration was opened. The sitting was conducted in Bahasa Malaysia, the national language, with sign language interpretations.
“At Microsoft, we are proud to be supporting the youth-led Parlimen Digital as their technology partner. Technology has been a critical enabler in connecting and engaging youth from every part of the country, including Orang Asli, marginalized and disabled communities, actively contributing to the ideas and discussions on pertinent issues relevant to the young population in Malaysia. It is especially promising for Malaysia to have young and passionate digital natives powering the nation’s progress” said K Raman, Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia.
“The participants have shown us a glimpse into a future should digital be part and parcel of our democratic process. They were able to successfully gather all 222 participants across diverse socio-economic backgrounds and locations on Microsoft Teams with the entire process emulating a proper Parliament session. This certainly renews our commitment to further democratize technology and empower youth with digital skills, thus enabling our future leaders to effectively drive Malaysia’s digital transformation forward,” he added.
In support of the Parlimen Digital, Microsoft provided 500 licenses for Office 365 E1 to the organizers to facilitate the virtual session. In addition to guidance and training, the Microsoft team was also on-site to provide the venue and behind-the-scenes support to the organizers during the live event.
To watch the Parlimen Digital proceedings, click here.