By CHRISTINE CHEAH
It’s not often that one gets to meet a government minister, let alone follow them around to observe how they work – but that’s exactly what 70 young Malaysians will get to do.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak introduced the Perdana Fellows Programme earlier this week, which will see the 70 selected fellows work with cabinet ministers as aides for the next few months.
According to Najib, who initiated the programme, the objective is to help bridge the gap between the government and the young people of Malaysia.
“We want these young people to be the unofficial spokespersons for the government, so that we can be more connected with the youth. This is our strategy to engage with the younger generation,” he said.
Najib said it would also help sharpen the skills and talents of the leaders of tomorrow.
“This is a golden opportunity for the students to get real working experience.
“As a fresh graduate, one will usually start working further down in the hierarchy of a company. It is rare to be able to start near the top.
“That is why this programme is so unique,” he said, after launching the programme at the Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
Over 600 applicants applied for the program through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, with the final 70 selected based on essays they wrote on public policies that could be improved as well as an interview.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the talented young Malaysians came from prestigious universities around the world, including Oxford University and Cambridge University, as well as local institutions like University of Malaya and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
Khairy also said the programme will help the fellows understand the government’s policies and allow them to suggest ideas on how they can be improved.
“We want to educate the youth to not just sit on the sidelines and criticise but to stand up and do something.
“This is the most prestigious internship in the country, and these fellows are to carry the vision and aspirations of Malaysia,” said Khairy.
Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris graduate Lister Boy Modumin, 24, of Kota Marudu, Sabah expressed his gratitude to the government for being selected for the programme.
“I want to contribute to the country and I hope I will gain a lot of experience from this internship,” said Lister, who has been assigned to work with Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Haji Apdal.
Former museum curator Lai Yin Yee and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduate Lai Kee Hee, both 24, became close friends when they attended the fellows’ orientation held last week at the International Youth Center in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
Kee Hee, who was assigned to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala, said: “I hope to learn more about the public sector through this programme.”
Yin Yee, who was assigned to Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said she hopes to suggest ideas and changes that could make Malaysia a better place.