The Star, 21 August 2011
HOW many youths understand the frameworks and processes of policy-making before they form an opinion about the authorities?
To help Malaysians understand the policy-making framework, the International Council of Malaysian Scholars (ICMS) organised the Malaysian Public Policy Competition (MPPC) and a series of seminars alongside.
“Malaysians tend to criticise government policies without any solution at hand,” said ICMS deputy project director and chief executive director Louis Chuo.
“Pertinent issues are discussed briefly with no effort to fully understand and comprehend underlying factors.”
As such, the MPPC team believes that youths would be able to get more actively involved in thinking about the nation’s socio-economic woes and solutions through the seminars, Chuo added.
The competition, which involved essay writing and presentations, saw the participation of close to 200 students from over 50 universities and colleges worldwide.
The top three teams will be competing in the finals on Sept 4, after the series of seminars on Sept 3.
Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR) campaigner Edmund Bon, who will be speaking at the seminar, said he will be talking about the Whistleblowers Protection Act and how it can be applied in practice.
He said that whistleblowers in many companies are often lower ranking staff who do not have much influence and so have low bargaining power.
“The public needs to be educated on their rights and understand that it is very much in the public’s interest for them to be courageous enough to speak out,” Bon said.
He also said he would be presenting a simplified version of what the law entails, and the various offences set in the law.
He added, “Although the law is present, people cannot be protected by it if they do not know and understand the law themselves.”
Also speaking at the session is Selayang MP William Leong, who believes that the public plays an important role in a democracy.
“We now live in the world of alternative media, and the Internet allows us to be very interactive in voicing our opinions.
Leong would also be speaking on the role of being a parliamentarian versus being a politician.
“As a good parliamentarian, we need to keep our conscience clear about whether something is right or wrong, regardless of whether or not the person who says or does that thing is from the same party that we support.”
Leong emphasised the importance of having a set value system, and knowing how to act according to that value system and principles.
Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) director for Anti-Corruption NKRA Ravindran Devagunam explained that transparency in a social context is generally implemented by a set of policies, practices and procedures, whereby citizens should be able to access useful information which can be understood and audited.
“One way to ensure transparency in the government is to make information available to the public as much as possible,” he said.
Ravindran said that Pemandu currently uses indices such as the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) and the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB), which make up the National Key Performance Indicators (NKPI) to measure transparency.
“The CPI aims to measure the prevalence of corruption within a country, while the GCB is a survey of the perception of citizens of a country on the state of corruption within the nation.”
He added that Malaysia is moving towards having a more transparent government by introducing mechanisms such as the MyProcurement portal and e-Perolehan portal.
“MyProcurement portal lists down all government contracts as uploaded by the ministries and government agencies, while the e-Perolehan portal is a procurement system which is used by government agencies and ministries to procure goods and services in a transparent manner.”
He added that the MACC has also introduced a “name and shame” database which lists all convicted corruption offenders.
Ravindran reminded Malaysians to be aware of the importance of a transparent government and continue to create a demand for transparency in the government.
“I hope to increase awareness on the importance of fighting corruption and get more people involved from a cross section of society,” he said.
Other speakers at the seminar include MACC chief comissioner Datuk Seri Abu Kassim Mohamed, Malaysian Institute of Integrity director (Private Sector) Mohd Nizam Mohd Ali, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) founding president Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz, and Transparency International executive committee member Ngooi Chiu-Ing.
Open to the public, the seminars will take place from 3pm to 5pm on Sept 3 at UCSI University North Wing, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.