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The first day started with the welcome messages from Dato’ Hans Peter Brenner, who is the German Honorary Consul in Penang, Malaysia and from YB Kumaresan Aramugam, State Assemblyman of Batu Uban, Penang State Government, Malaysia and an alumnus of KASYP Batch 03 himself. As a businessman himself, Dato’ Brenner emphasized how good politics or good governance is important for the business industry to thrive and eventually the development of a locality. While YB Aramugam shared his positive experience with KASYP and how the programme helped him in his political career.
After the opening ceremonies, the programmed dived directly into the “State of Local Governance and Development in Asia”. The participants enjoyed listening to Mr. Marcel Pandin, Senior Advisor, United Cities and Local Governments Asia Pacific where he talked about the main drivers and challenges in governing the development of local constituencies. After learning the general trends on local governance and development across the region, the presentation of Ms. Tunku Azela Tunku Aziz, Executive Director of Institut Kajian Dasar followed where she shared the experience of Malaysia young leaders in local politics. She cited that most of the KASYP participants from Malaysia have undergone initial training under their institute which made them more than ready than anyone else.
The second part of the first day tackled one important and highly relevant topic for young political leaders which is the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The group was fortunate to have resource experts from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in the name of Ms. Natalja Wehmer and Ms. Aline Roldan. They introduced to the participants on how to localize the SDGs, assist them in aligning their topic of choice with the SDGs, and trained to deliver a pitch that integrates the SDGs into their respective political party platforms.
On the second day, Dr. Segundo Romero, KASYP’s in-house trainer and facilitator has continued the input on project management where the participants presented the updates of their political projects. This was followed by a lecture-workshop on “Strategies for Local Economic Development: Focus on Green Jobs”. Once again, the participants were fortunate to have Dr. Cristina Martinez, Senior Specialist for Environment and Decent Work from the International Labour Organization (ILO) to give her inputs on how local governments could prepare strategies for just transitions when local economies shift to green economies. With the aim to make economic development more sustainable, the transition from unsustainable practices to a green economy entails a trade-off. As future political decision-makers, the participants learned on how to strategies that these transitions will be just especially those who will be on the losing ends.
The third day was an opportunity to lead on-sites discussions at the Penang Institute with Ms. Pey Jung Yeong, Research Project Advisors who presented the politics of federalism in Malaysia. This was followed by a presentation on the issues and challenges of local governance and development for political parties by no other than the founder of KASYP, Dr. Wilhelm Hofmeister who is now the Director for the KAS Office in Spain and Portugal. Subsequently, the special perspective of women’s empowerment in relation to Gender Responsive and Participatory Budgeting (GRPB) in the provision of public services was presented by Ms. Ong Bee Leng, Chief Executive Officer of the Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC). Continuing with the field visits, the group had the opportunity to have a dialogue with YB Soon Lip Chee, Penang State Minister for Sport. The group had a lively discussion with YB Soon reflecting on the role of young leaders in politics and sharing insights into local and rural development in the state of Penang. Site visits of the UNESCO World Heritage area concluded this day of reflections on local planning and governance.
The last day ended up with a lively and interactive workshop on one of the most common challenges faced by local governments in Asia which is disaster risk reduction management. Dr. Caroline Brassard from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy facilitated a simulation exercise on how to respond when disaster hits. Participants took up different roles and acted upon instruction on how to achieve a consensus decision when it comes to delivering basic services especially during disasters. The participants learned and enjoy at the same time on how to manage negotiations among different and, most crucially competing interests of various stakeholders.
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