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Youth 2013.pdf

Youth 2013.pdf

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Published by The Myanmar Times
Youth Focus: MYANMAR
Youth Focus: MYANMAR

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Published by: The Myanmar Times on Apr 06, 2013
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10/20/2013

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U
NTIL the very recentpast, most youngpeople in Myanmarshunned political activitybecause o the dangersthat accompanied it.However while many stillappear disenchanted bythe prospect o a career inpolitics, the situation appearsto be slowly changing or thebetter, which is no doubt dueto the democratic reormsthat began taking place in2011. At a training centre runby the organisation Action Aid called Global Platorm,young people learn abouta variety o issues, such asgovernance, citizenship andcreative advocacy.One o the participants,22-year-old Toe Toe romMeikhtila in the MandalayRegion, has helped build alibrary and ounded a youthgroup in his community.“I am not interested inbecoming a politician. I wantto change the mindsets o people in order to help thembuild up our communityrom the bottom. The mosteective way to change thestatus quo is through theyoung generation, becausewe are still learning. Theyoung generation is theuture and possibly potentialleaders later on,” he said. Ater an exercise o teambuilding at GlobalPlatorm, the circle o youngpeople – some wearinglongyi and other jeans - splitup into smaller groups todiscuss cultural diversity. Another participant,25-year-old Phwe Yu Monwas one o the organisersbehind the irst Myanmar Youth Forum, which was heldin December and included157 representatives rom 14states and regions.She said, “Young peoplehave a lot o problems andthe biggest challenge orthem is education, becauseit oten doesn’t lead to jobopportunities. Our goal withthe Myanmar Youth Forumwas to build a network across the country toovercome the challenges weace. We need to be strongand know our rights to keepup the developments.”Participants in the orumidentiied various challengesand came up with potentialsolutions, which weresubsequently submitted tothe government.“Myanmar youth do notparticipate actively in politicalaairs because they areweak in… relying on onesel,leadership and knowledge,”a statement rom theMyanmar Youth Forum said.Capacity building hasbecome a catch-phraseamong politically consciousyouth, who recognise thatwithout the necessaryskills, their ability to play aneective role in politics isgreatly hampered.For more than 50 years,the amount o moneyinvested in educationhas been inadequateand universities droppedpolitical subjects, leavingan enormous knowledgevacuum. A teacher atBayda Institute, 32-year-oldZay Yah Oo, understandsirsthand how dangerouspolitical activism was in thepast. He was released romprison in the beginning o 2012 ater serving eightyears or breaking the StateLaw and Order RestorationCouncil Law Number 6/88 by“illegally organising under theUnlawul Association Act”.He has just inishedteaching a one-month coursein politics and public opinion.“Our aim is to create ademocratic atmosphere orthe youth o Myanmar. Theyoung generation shouldhave political knowledge inorder to understand theircountry, otherwise they can’tparticipate in politics as wemove towards democracy,”Zay Yah Oo said.Generation Wave isa pro-democracy groupthat was ounded in 2007ollowing the Saronrevolution. Membership isrestricted to people agedbetween 18 and 35 andcampaigns included ananti-government ilm called
Rambo
that was distributedin unmarked packages in teashops and bumper stickersthat said “Change NewGovernment” (as opposedto the more commonlyseen “Compressed NaturalGas” stickers). Althoughthe group previously had itssae-house in Mae Sot, itmoved to Yangon ater themilitary government wasdissolved in March 2011.In January last year, manyo the 27 members whowere imprisoned or “illegalorganising” were released aspart o a mass presidentialpardon. Each had been givena ive year sentence.Ko Khant Htun said he joined Generation Wave ayear and a hal ago aterundergoing training in MaeSot.“My political work overthe past year has been abig change o liestyle. Idon’t have a lot o riendsbecause they are araid mywork could land them in jail.But I won’t stop because Iam concerned or the nextgeneration. I don’t want myuture daughter or son togrow up like this,” Ko KhantHtun said.“I do a lot o work in thecommunity but I don’t wantto become a member o aparty, because then I won’tbe ree – I’ll be inluenced. And i I am a member o theparliament, I won’t have thechance to communicate withthe public. In my opinion, theparliament is not in touchwith the people. They are just sitting on their chairs inparliament,” he said.Ko Khant Htun was notthe only one to expresscynicism about a careerin politics – many otheryoung people said theyeel disconnected rom thepolitical process. Although the NationalLeague or Democracy has aspeciic strategy to promoteyoung people’s participation,it has no estimate on howmany o their 600,000members are below the ageo 30.By contrast, U HtayOo, vice chairman or theruling Union Solidarity andDevelopment Party, said thatUSDP has more than ourmillion members between theages o 18 and 35, “who areall involved in the party.” This high igure may beattributed to the act thatuniversity students mustregister as a USDP memberwhen they commenceuniversity studies.“We have a basic strategy
Editors:
Jessica Mudditt, Myo Lwin
Writers:
Shwe Ye Saw Myint, Yu Yu Maw,Maria Danmark, Aung Shin, MyoLwin, Jessica Mudditt, Khin Su Wai,Yamon Phyu Thit
Cover Photo:
Htet Aung Kyaw (HAK)
Cover model:
Yoon Wadi Lwin Moe
Photographers:
 Ko Taik, Douglas Long, PhilipMcKinney, Jessica Mudditt, Thiri Lu,Htet Aung Kyaw
Cover & Layout Design:
Tin Zaw Htway, Ko Pxyo
I don’t want to become a memberof a party, because then I won’t befree – I’ll be influenced.
 Youth engagement in
Members o Generation Wave take part in ademonstration in Yangon in December againstLetpadaung copper mine in northwestern Myanmar,ollowing a crackdown against monks who opposedthe Chinese-backed project.
PHOTO: Supplied by Generation Wave
By 
Maria Danmark 
 Youth 2013
 A Myanmar TimesSpecial Report
For enquiries and feedback:
 
myolwin@myanmartimes.com.mm, jess.mudditt@gmail.com
 
3
where we require youngpeople to accept and believein the concept o the party.In my opinion, there are noobstacles to young peoplegetting involved in a party. They have every chance,” headded.Ohn Kyaing, aspokesperson rom NLD, told
The Myanmar Times
: “Wehave developed a strategyto try to mobilise youngNLD members in our party. Ater holding our irst partyconvention next month, wewill hold a youth conventionin April to discuss the youthstrategy and make urtherplans.”“Myanmar is going througha transition period andthe youth politicians canthereore have trouble indingtheir way. Many youth relyon the leadership o olderparty members and manyare conused about whetheror not they want to join apolitical party or work in civilsociety,” he added.I this is a trend, Salai Thian Uk Thang is theexception. Together with agroup o riends he ormedthe National Chin Party in2010, when he was just 26-years-old.“The irst time I thoughtabout orming a politicalparty was back in 2008, theyear o Cyclone Nargis andthe current constitution wasapproved. The governmentseemed more concernedabout approving theconstitution rather thanhelping the victims, which letme with a lot o questions,”he said.Salai hadn’t studiedpolitics beore ormingthe party, so he and hisriends spent many hours inteashops discussing politicsand teaching themselvesvarious theories. Their goalis to build a ederal unionand ind solutions to theproblems in the Chin state,which is one o the poorestregions in Myanmar.“Our biggest problems arepoverty and migration, butnow that we have identiiedthis, we must ind a solution:parliament is one way tosolve these problems,” hesaid. At the headquarters o the National Chin Party thereare 15 people working, 10o whom are under 30. Salaidoesn’t believe young peopleace any insurmountablechallenges to joining a party.“The biggest disincentiveis that a career in politicsisn’t lucrative. This is whymany young people chooseto work within civil society,which allows a person tomake a contribution tosociety while still making aliving out o it,” he said.Salai ran or parliament inthe 2010 elections, but saidhe was unsuccessul due toa lack o experience.“I think that young peopleknow more about politicsthan older people do, butbecause o the Myanmartradition to respect ourelders, all our memberso parliament are theelders. Young people areon standby until they haveenough experience. But theuture o Myanmar is brightnow that we have entereda transitional period, so Ithink there will be more jobopportunities within politicalparties that young peoplecan ill. Then more youngpeople will get involved – orso I hope,” he said.
politics
Participants at the Global Platorm learn how to conduct workshops or raising awarenessabout various issues, such as children’s rights.
PHOTO: Supplied by Generation Wave

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