REFSA Future of Democracy Series – Democracy in a Polarised Age Goenawan Mohamad in conversation with Eddin Khoo – REFSA


REFSA Future of Democracy Series

Democracy in a Polarised Age
Goenawan Mohamad in conversation with Eddin Khoo
Special address by YB Lim Kit Siang

Date: 26th Nov 2019 
Time: 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Venue: APW, Jalan Riong, Bangsar

OPEN TO PUBLIC. Visit our facebook for further details. Please register at

“Today, democracy is increasingly like a half-remembered love letter. It begins with fresh passion, anticipating a warm and honest conversation – and then time wears it away. As an expression, words, and performance, democracy has lost the thrill. And yet it retains its resilient, albeit confused, hope of rebound.” — Goenawan Mohamad, August 2018.

Goenawan Mohamad is one of Indonesia’s most influential intellectuals – a poet, writer and editor. As an ardent champion of Indonesia’s liberalisation under the New Order, Goenawan and his literary peers have suffered the brunt of authoritarian repression, publishing and writing under great duress. However, the freedom of speech that was so cherished by a pioneer generation of democratic activists has today energised fringe segments of society, polarising societies and endangered the prospects of the nascent democracies in Southeast Asia. How should we re-energise democracy in this part of the world? How do we restore societal faith in democracy? And how do we ensure that our representative institutions play their role as key mediators and conciliators of conflicts in our society?

According to Goenawan, democracy is a perpetually “unfinished project of freedom and justice”. This event furthers the project by opening up the debate on what freedom, justice and democracy means to a new generation of young democrats living in a vastly different epoch. It is an attempt to renew the terms of democracy, making it continually relevant to our times.

1.00 pm
1.30 pm
Welcome remarks
Ms Tan E Hun
REFSA Executive Director
1.40 pm
Panel 1 Opening Remarks
Realising our youth potentia
In the past decade, the unemployment rate for youths has steadily grown. Youths make up the majority of unemployed individuals, comprising about 56.4% of the total unemployed population. This opening presentation will deliberate on what went wrong with our development agenda in the past decade, and how we can usher in a new era of people- and youth-centred policies in 2020 and beyond.

Guiding questions include:
1. What are the barriers to meaningful youth employment?
2. What went wrong in policy approaches of the last decade that led to our ballooning youth unemployment figure?
3. What are the government’s current policies to redress youth unemployment?
YB Syed Saddiq
Minister for Youth and Sports
2.00 pm
Panel 1
The Present of Work: What is the state’s role in creating decent, secure employment for our young people?

The panel highlights the market-correcting role of the state to intervene in our labour markets to produce quality jobs with high wages for our youths. This requires, foremost, an overall paradigm shift in the role of our state in the labour markets: more government regulatory efforts are needed to guide industries in the direction of creating good jobs, integrating our youths closer into the labour markets and ensure that the labour market functions fairly for young workers.

Some policy suggestions to be explored and debated include:
■ Strengthening job security for our youths by mandating social protection for own-account workers
■ Encourage the private sector to adopt best practices in apprenticeship schemes for our young workers
■ Provide temporary employment subsidies to encourage SMEs to take up young, relatively inexperienced workers
■ And other measures to integrate our young workers closer into the labour markets.
Panellists [TBC]
A Policy Guide to Jobs Creation for Youth

Khazanah Research Institute
School-to-work transition

Federation manufacturing Malaysia
What is the private sector’s effort in training our young workforce?

Achim Daniel Schmillen, World Bank Malaysia
Enhancing social protection to youths in precarious employment

Discussants [TBC]
Bank Negara Malaysia

Dr. Muhammed Abdul Khalid
Prof. Shandre Thangavelu
YB Fahmi Fadzil
3.15 pm
Tea and Coffee Break
3.30 pm
Panel 2 Opening Remarks
Reskilling our workforce for the future
YB M. Kulasegaran Minister for Human Resources
3.50 pm
Panel 2
Restructuring industries to create high income occupations for our youths

In addition to regulating current employment for young workers, we must also be cognisant of new industrial trends such as the Malaysia’s premature industrialisation and the rapidly expanding low-end services sector. These trends will affect the future of employment for young workers.

Besides intervening to ensure that young workers have a secure employment in the current labour markets, structural transformation of our industries is needed to ensure our successful transition from an upper-middle income country to a high income nation. In addition, a structural transformation of our industries will arrest the declining share of secure, high-skilled employment available to our young workers.

A three-pronged policy approach will be explored in-depth:
■ continual investment in our human capital
■ Identifying and supporting promising sunrise industries
■ restructuring our traditional economic sectors to achieve higher productivity
Muhamed Ali Hajah Mydin, CEO
Selangor Skills Development Centre (SSDC)
What are new, promising economic sectors in Malaysia and how can we support the growth of these industries?

Renewable Energy Industry
Green Jobs for youths

The Future of Work
Allen Ng, Chief Economist, Securities Commissions Malaysia

E&E Industry
Dr. Francis E. Hutchinson Senior Fellow, Malaysia Studies Programme, ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute

Discussants [TBC]
Malaysian Employers Federation Representative

Yin Shao Loong

Malaysian Technical University Network (MTUN) Representative

Nurhisham Hussein, Head, Economics & Capital Markets, EPF
5.30 pm