“The country really needs us.” – Jamaliah Jamaluddin.
While many of us (the younger generation) are not ready to sacrifice our weekends, there are a few out there who readily do so for the sake of the nation. It’s not certainly an easy job to move the country forward. But together, we can make it happen.
Actually, we already did—evident through the recent high percentage of youths aged between 21–24 who came out to vote recently. We also witnessed the direct involvement of the youth and women to run as candidates for the recently-concluded election and one of them was Jamaliah Jamaluddin—who was the Bandar Utama candidate and now the State Assemblywoman.
In a recent interview with UPPRE, Jamaliah told us that the youth of today play an important role in building the country as well as moving it forward. “I believe that they really want to do something. They just don’t know where and how to start. But, now that the government has changed, it is the best time for the youth to come out and do something”, Jamaliah said.
Jamaliah further explained that the recent decision made by Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to revoke his initial intention to hold the Minister of Education post is proof that the new government really takes citizens’ voices into account.
“We can see that in this new government, the rakyat’s voices are being heard because that is why the rakyat (citizens) have voted us in in the first place”, she explained.
Interest In Community Service Led To A Bigger Role
After graduating with Bachelor’s Degree in International Business from Northwood University, Jamaliah worked for a shopper market research company for 5 years. However, she was always interested in community service and volunteerism.
In 2015, she took a bigger step by volunteering for DAP while she was still working with her previous company. A few months later, she was entrusted by the former Damansara Utama’s assemblywoman YB Yeo Bee Yin with the position as MBPJ councillor. Not long after that, she was offered another position as a special aide to YB Yeo.
After gaining experience working as a councillor and special assistant to the former assemblywoman, she finally decided to run as DAP’s candidate for Bandar Utama seat in GE14.
Reforming the Institution is All We Need
Jamaliah believes that the current system is already good enough. Of course, there is always room for improvements. However, she emphasised that it is the institution that needs attention.
“In Malaysia, we have laws that protect the citizens’ rights. The problem is there’s no enforcement in those laws. It’s kind of useless if you have laws but you don’t enforce it. A simple example would be smoking in public. Therefore, I think we need to focus more on the enforcement and improve the institution to make sure that we take the laws seriously”, she explained.
Speaking of law, we asked Jamaliah on the issue of foreign workers (Bangladeshi, Pakistani, etc.) who are slowly becoming Malaysian citizens. Responding to that, Jamaliah takes her stand firmly that it is an irresponsible act to simply give citizenships to foreigners without proper evaluations and following the S.O.P.
“Of course, I don’t agree for our government to give out the blue I.C so easily while there are other Malaysian citizens who are stateless—some even cannot get the red I.C. It is a challenge for the new government to control this situation to ensure that the blue I.C is not given out easily. The foreign workers can come in but with the proper ways and terms and conditions”, she said.
She also believes that the new government is doing their very best to make the changes happen. “But we need time, certainly. Right now, a lot of people have been asking when they are going to see the changes. But changes take time”, she clarified.
The Bandar Utama state assembly seat was contested by Jamaliah, Barisan Nasional’s Ch’ng Soo Chau, and Peter Chong, an independent candidate. Jamaliah received 38,651 votes, beating her opponent from BN by 34,700 majority.
We also interviewed Michelle Ng, a compatriot of Jamaliah’s in the good fight. Read it here.
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