Youths are leading Malaysia’s first ever virtual parliament to prove that democracy can go digital

Ever since the political mess that was the one-day-only parliament meeting on May 18 that featured a speech by the King and little else, the Malaysian Parliament has not been meeting in fear of spreading or contracting the coronavirus.

The Malaysian government has held fast onto its decision that its next parliament meeting will be held on July 13, and will take place over the span of 15 days.

But Malaysian youths are not pleased with that decision. Especially as the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) has began loosening its restrictions and many citizens are slowly becoming more used to what we now call ‘the new normal’ post-coronavirus pandemic.

Well, to show the Malaysian Parliament how it could be done, Challenger Malaysia, Undi 18, and Liga Rakyat Demokratik are introducing Parlimen Digital.

The youth-led initiative will be hosting a virtual parliamentary sitting on July 4 and 5 to “propose recommendations to address the economic and health crises in Malaysia,” particularly on the topic on policy recommendations regarding COVID-19.

It will be screened lived to showcase “the feasibility of a virtual parliamentary democracy.”

The most interesting part of the virtual parliament?

It’s inviting anyone and everyone to represent their constituency.

The last Parliament Meeting was held on May 18, 2020. IMAGE: Malay Mail

The only requirements is that participants must be 15 to 35 years old, and that participants must be able to speak in Bahasa Malaysia as the meeting will be conducted in the national language.

“Young people have a voice. Express your perpectives on the policies that need to be implemented to address the COVID-19 crisis and prevent the nation from entering a recession. If we, as a group of youth, can gather, why can’t the Malaysian House of Representatives (Dewan Rakyat)?” the organizers stated in a Twitter post.

Anyone interested in participating in Parlimen Digital can register through this form by June 23, 2020.

This is not the first time that implementation of an electronic parliamentary system has been brought up.

In an article by the New Straits Times, a professional technologist said that setting one up could take up to two years and an investment of between RM2 million (US$469,314) to RM5 million (US$1.17 million). That’s because there is a risk that confidential data such as health and banking details of the ministers could be stolen.

Former Dewan Rakyat deputy Speaker Wan Junaidi bin Tuanku Jaafar also supported efforts in creating an e-parliament, but said it could take up to a year or more to be implemented as house rules have to be amended first.

“First, the speaker must make an appeal to the King to allow for parliamentary sessions to be done outside the Parliament building,” he said to the New Straits Times.

“He also has to make a new decree to endorse this because when the building was built in 1959 and the King at the time had decreed that the house was henceforth where Parliament meetings would be held.”

Do you think a Virtual Parliament meeting is possible? Let us know in the comments.

Follow Mashable SEA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Cover image sourced from New Straits Times and @ParlimenDigital.