CIVIL SOCIETY INITIATIVES
The call for a stronger, more emboldened civil society in Malaysia is urgent, and LEAP is responding to this need by expanding its efforts to give voice to the marginalized, merge fragmented groups into cohesive partnerships, and open up democratic space.
Following LEAP’s success in civil society led movement Green SURF, a new portfolio was created to foster a civil society movement through initiatives in three key areas essential to opening democratic space in Malaysia.
These key areas are indigenous rights, empowering youth and energy justice.
1. Indigenous Rights
LEAP closely partners with PACOS Trust (Partners of Community Organisations), and JOAS (Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia), and has built upon this partnership, a relationship based on trust, collaboration and transparency. LEAP provides a bridge, especially for PACOS Trust, to work with other essential entities such as the Sabah state government (through the Sabah Forestry Department), and plantation companies. LEAP helps facilitate workable multi-party partnerships in respect to native land rights issues.LEAP was part of the SUHAKAM (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia) national inquiry into native land rights, particularly in Sarawak and has submitted official feedback.
LEAP plans to play a significant role in empowering indigenous rural communities who feel marginalized throughout the native land rights process, through various partnerships with indigenous organisations in Malaysia.
2. Empowering Youth
LEAP strongly believes in the potential of youth in changing societal mind-sets, and currently endorses the Borneo Youth Revolution, which was born in December 2011 when young Sabahans decided to raise awareness and peacefully claim public space in Kota Kinabalu in a candle-light marathon for non-violence against women and children. This initiative was part of the 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence international campaign.
The members comprise of young lawyers, gay rights activists, students, environmentalists, youth activists, Orang Asal activists, women’s rights activists, animal rights activists, and more.
The Borneo Youth Revolution’s mission is to provide a platform for young East Malaysians to voice out issues that matter to them. It provides support, safe space and an avenue to create activities that help facilitate solutions.
Borneo Youth Revolution has since organised public talks including discussions on undocumented migrants in Sabah, and a “Politics and Youth” forum. The forum gathered young aspiring politicians from different sides of the divide in an effort to inspire youths to take part in democracy, and was likely the first non-partisan event organized by civil society in Kota Kinabalu. It later partnered with the North Borneo History Enthusiasts to organis “Tikar Revolusi” (Woven Mat Revolution) targeting the youth for a community arts initiative called Bonding with Gaya Street.
3. Energy Justice
Following the success of Green SURF, LEAP aims to facilitate the emergence of a civil society coalition around destructive development projects in Sarawak. LEAP aims to leverage contacts in Sarawak to bring together human rights, indigenous rights, and environmental organizations to form a coalition around chosen development projects/issues.
Using the experience of Green SURF and working with the indigenous Sarawak organisations, LEAP aims to assist in a grassroots mobilization campaign to mobilize support through social media, gaining state, national and international media attention. LEAP plans to commission a report on energy options for Sarawak from the UC Berkeley RAEL, with the aim of holding an open public forum on the issue.
Expected outcomes include an opened civil society space in Sarawak and NGOs empowered to speak out as a coalition.