Young, progressive and leading the way: Meet PMT 2016 batch President Nalina Nair
We asked Political Management Training Batch 2016 (Stand by Oh)* Nalina Nair about her experience in the program which prepares young progressive leaders from the region for greater responsibilities and how it influences her own political work and social activism.
Currently State Secretary for Democratic Action Party Women’s Wing Selangor and Organising Committee Member of Demi Malaysia
Batch President, PMT Batch 2016 (Stand by Oh)
What has happened since your graduation from the program more than five months ago?
Upon arriving back in Malaysia after graduating from the PMT in Cebu, I joined my comrades in organizing the Bersih 5 rally, as I was part of the program team. The rally was held just 2 weeks after the PMT graduation.
Immediately after the rally, we went on to work on the release of election watchdog Bersih 2.0’s chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah. There was no time to waste, as she was being detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act on the eve of the Bersih 5 rally. After being held for 11 days, she was released due to the overwhelming pressure from Malaysians and various foreign NGOs.
Later on, the Election Commission (EC) drafted a redelineation proposal, which would result in malapportionment and gerrymandering. On behalf of the constituency of Setiawangsa, I became the spokesperson in objecting the proposal. We were successful in stopping the implementation of the proposal in Setiawangsa after a hearing with the EC.
At the beginning of the year, I was elected as State Secretary for the Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) Women’s Wing in the state of Selangor. In March, we held a month-long International Women’s Day campaign, which included an online campaign and forums and workshops to empower women.
Apart from the DAP, I am also one of the organizing committee members of youth movement Demi Malaysia. We are currently organizing Malaysia’s first nationwide youth congress, which will see youth leaders of various backgrounds and ideologies from student movements, NGOs and political parties coming together for 2 days to discuss and debate solutions to current political issues. The congress will be held on 13 and 24 May 2017.
Batch Picture of PMT Batch 2016 - Stand by Oh with PMT facilitator Marlon Cornelio (far left)
How were you able to apply the skills and knowledge from the PMT in your current political activism?
The PMT gave me a better understanding to social democratic policies and how as social democrats, we should shape our thinking and policies in line with social democratic values.
Do you think progressive leaders among the youth should be rigid on their progressive values or do you think that there areas for compromise and cooperation?
In a time where neo-nationalism is on the rise not only in our region, but also across the globe, progressive leaders need to stay true to the progressive struggle. However, there is a dire need to revamp how we promote social democratic and progressive ideas. This will require some compromise on how we appeal to the masses, but we do not need to compromise our core values.
What were the things you discovered about yourself from the PMT and your PMT batchmates?
I discovered that there is so much to learn from comrades of different countries in ASEAN. Our countries and struggles share many similarities. We also learnt what social democracy meant in different ASEAN countries. So, hearing how social democratic parties from each country deal with their struggles was eye-opening. We discussed what works and doesn’t work in our respective struggles and sometimes, we would go “Ah, I could do that back home too!” That was my biggest takeaway from the PMT.
PMT participants break out for group discussions and reporting
Please give us three things you miss the most from PMT 2016 (Batch Oh)
My batchmates! Also, delicious Filipino food and the Philippines.
Do you have a message for the incoming PMT Batch 2017?
Don’t hesitate to ask the friendly facilitators, knowledgeable speakers and your batchmates questions. Create discussions and conversations that help you grow as a young politician and understand how social democracy works in neighboring countries. While you’re at it, please don’t forget to have fun as well! I wish all of you a successful PMT!
Participants enjoy a short energizer to prepare for a day of lectures, group discussions, and activities
*PMT Batch 2016 chose to take the name of "Stand by Oh" in solidarity with their Thai batchmate who was jailed by government forces during a pro-democracy protest days before the start of the 2nd half of the training. He has been releases since then but is still facing charges.