You’ve probably come across young keyboard warriors angrily typing out political opinions in their comfortable echo chambers, but you will be surprised to find Malaysian students, in the midst of completing their studies, working in politics.
We interviewed two such individuals whose political aspirations drove them to work with their local MPs and ADUNs. Kyle, a fresh law and public relations graduate, began working in politics in his second year of law school. Karmun, on the other hand, an economics major, kick started her political ventures as soon as she completed A-Levels.
Owing to their experiences in politics, Kyle and Karmun along with a friend of theirs have founded an Instagram page called YPOLITICS where they churn out political, socioeconomic and other current affairs related content to raise awareness amongst the youth. They, along with their team of volunteer researchers, have gained a mass following in the span of just six months. Their ultimate goal is to ensure the youth movement in Malaysia is galvanized.
If you’re wondering what it’s like to be in politics, at a young age, keep reading to see what Kyle and Karmun had to say about their experiences!
What made you turn to politics during your degree?
Kyle: I think, because I have always wanted to contribute in my own ways to help build Malaysia, I was offered an internship with one of my local MPs and everything just start from there. Since I am in Law School, I was thinking working with an MP could actually help to increase my knowledge of the legislative process, and at the same time help him research on specific legislation.
Karmun: I did not ‘turn to politics’ during my degree. At the age of 16, I had to keep up to date with global political news to engage with my dad. However, since young, I was told not to venture into politics, especially in Malaysia. In 2019, I had 3 months to spare upon completion of my A-levels and I decided to apply as an intern with YB Lim Yi Wei to challenge my dad. Besides wanting to ‘challenge” my dad, I came into this internship eager to look behind the roles politicians play in running our communities.
Is politics in the cards for your future?
Kyle: Working with my local MP was an eye-opening experience. I realized that being in politics is not just about the position in power. I am open to working in politics in the future, but if I were to join politics, it is better for me to have a certain amount of experience working outside the political scene, and to be financially stable first.
Do you think more young students/fresh grads should consider a political career?
Karmun: If you find yourself fascinated by politics, and have interest in serving and representing the people, yes go for it. Politics at its core, especially in a democracy like ours, is about representing the will of people, and representation can be done regardless of age, as long as the people choose you. If you have a good head on your shoulders, the rest can be learnt. With all that being said, keep this in mind – you don’t have to run as a candidate to participate in politics.
Has your degree background helped in your political ventures?
Kyle: As I am both a Public Relations degree holder, and a law graduate, it definitely contributed to my political ventures in a way. My public relations background helped me deal with press statements and also crisis management, my law degree on the other hand gave me the confidence to look at legislative matters from a legal perspective, and not just through the socioeconomic perspective.
Any tips for those thinking about trying their hand in politics?
Karmun: Write to your district representatives or any politician you look up to, and enquire about internship programmes first. This will provide you with exposure to district and legislative operations and help determine if you want to pursue a political career. Here is my favourite quote from Barack Obama, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Kyle and Karmun have shown us that it is very possible to expand our horizons by pursuing political undertakings whilst studying. It won’t be a walk in the park, but if politics is something that intrigues you, starting now when you’re young and driven (most of the time, anyway), would be most ideal.