Safeguarding Democracy in the Digital World

IAF Replication

Rahman Imuda

The Workshop on Safeguarding Democracy in the Digital World (Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia) targets participants who come from independent digital publishers throughout Tawau, Sabah. The Covid-19 pandemic makes us realised the importance of safeguarding democracy in the digital world – where we can see there are a lot of incidents throughout the pandemic that could harm the state of democracy in Malaysia. Especially when the Malaysian government announced the state of emergency.

20 participants were selected to attend this workshop. I introduced myself as a facilitator to help sort-out discussions throughout the workshop. Among the activities that we do was a discussion of basic democracy (Democracy 101). After that, we talked about how the pandemic will affect our democracy. It seems most of the participants disagree with the implementation of the state of democracy in our country. They also agreed that most of the countries in the world used pandemics as a shield for any criticism towards them.

After that, I divided the participants into four working groups; their task is to create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the Parliament during the pandemic. This is important because the parliamentary meeting is the backbone of democracy. Without any parliamentary meetings, the government will act alone, with no check and balance from the opposition. This is what happened in Malaysia, last year. 

Before the presentation from each group, we talked about who is the most vulnerable in the digital world, especially during the pandemic. The participants seem to believe the children are the most vulnerable group, especially from the B40 segment. They don’t have access to the gadget and the Internet, which they will be left out of during online classes. Their family also will have difficulties gaining any information that will help them survive during the pandemic.

After the discussion about the vulnerable group, each group presents their work on Parliamentary SOP. We had a fruitful discussion, and strongly believe the government can hold a parliamentary meeting during the pandemic. It’s important to create policies regarding the pandemic in the parliament.

On the next day, the discussion began with the topic of digitalization – The participants expressed their opinions towards the subject. Then I asked them a question about how do we can promote digital literacy in Malaysia? Most of the participants think it needs to be done immediately, and then no one should be left behind by being competent in the world of digital. The completion of the discussion end and conclude it needs to start with the education system.

The participants also held a forum among themselves, and finally, a call-to-action session was conducted to determine the direction of the participants.