Dear Paprika: My Time At SekolahAktivisme


Sometime in the middle of 2013, Uncle Edmund sent out an email saying he was starting a school to train people how to be activists. There were no fees and would involve coaching. I thought it was a fantastic offer so I took it up. This school was named SekolahAktivisme (spelled without a space). It is usually shortened to “sekolah” by us and the participants were called “murid-murid” sekolah.

The coaching was handled by Auntie Animah and Uncle Jerry. They focused on individual and team building. These sessions were held every Thursday night from 8pm till late.

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Many murid-murid were enthusiastic and did not miss the sessions. Auntie Jessie used to drive up from Malacca twice a week.

We were taught Moyer’s 4 types of activists you could be: Rebel, Citizen, Social Change Agent or Reformer. To quickly find out which role suited us, Uncle Jerry taught one of the best things I have ever learnt: the use of the Equilibria personality test to determine the type of personality we had. The use of colours to identify the 4 personalities were also easy to remember and once we knew what personality we had, it was easy to work with one another. Try the test for yourself here.

One of the things I liked about SekolahAktivisme was the action we were forced into. Very early on, we were told we would be applying what we learned. So we discussed several causes we could take up and settled on a suggestion by Uncle Edmund. The SPR would be doing a delineation exercise soon and this was a chance for the rakyat to voice their dissatisfaction if they felt that their vote was not properly represented. It seemed painfully obvious that gerrymandering was a big problem in our country. I’ve written to you about gerrymandering before: “Dear Paprika: Get Your Fair Share Of Cake”. Sekolah would make the rakyat aware of such unfair elections practice.

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(Here we are, pouring over delineation maps from SPR to learn more about gerrymandering)

Each of the 4 activist roles were divided and work was assigned. How would the Rebel group bring the message to the rakyat? How would the Reformer group work with the powers-that-be to ensure votes were equal in value? How would the Social Change Agent group help the rakyat to understand gerrymandering?

The Reformer group came up with a 5 page memorandum while the Social Change Agent came up with a comic booklet and a short video called “Apa Itu Gerrymandering.” I was in both groups. It was tedious running through the many pages of work done by Dr Ong Kian Ming and Dr Wong Chin Huat about malaportionment and gerrymandering. It was more fun to shoot the video.

Meeting Places

We usually met at PusatRakyatLB but we also often met at Old Town Kopitiam.

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(I don’t remember why I was wearing a sarong that day.)

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This stretch of table was “our place” at Old Town Kopitiam. The management of OTK was very accommodating.

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(We did do work and not just eat and drink.)

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Once, we met at Ah Ma’s house.

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We even met at Kinokuniya’s cafe.

Drawing

Another thing that I enjoyed at SekolahAktivisme was resurrecting my my old drawing ability. I drew the “Anti-Gerrymandering 1RUN” logo.

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(1 rakyat : 1 undi : 1 nilai. “1RUN”)

Here are some more things I drew.

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These ideas came from various people during the sekolah meetings.

Extra Curricular Activities

It was not just work, work, work at SekolahAktivisme. I organised a Burger Night to blow off some steam.

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And, I took Auntie Q and Auntie Sheela on a recce to Kuala Selangor. We once thought Kuala Selangor would be the place we would turun padang to do public education on gerrymandering.

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The recce included lots of stops at the best places to eat and drink. Boy, the girls sure enjoyed their time there!

I also organised a public speaking workshop to help murid-murid sekolah be better speakers.

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I set up the sekolah website (www.sekolahaktivisme.org) at about 5 am one morning; bought the domain, set up the hosting and got it running by 10am. That is the fastest I have ever set up a website.

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Anti-Gerrymandering Week

After launching SekolahAktivisme, we decided to organise an Anti-Gerrymandering Week. I was again involved in shooting a video. At first we hoped to get That Effing Show to talk about anti-gerrymandering but they were too busy so I suggested we spoofed their show. Uncle Adzrul and Auntie Sheela spoofed Ezra and Faiq.

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I edited all the videos produced by sekolah.

This Gajah Vs Rusa gerrymandering game was originally in text. I converted it into this graphic version. Try you hand at gerrymandering here.

Giving Back To UndiMsia

The murid-murid sekolah have always been grateful to UndiMsia for giving them the SekolahAktivisme platform and we helped out where we could. We helped pack up the old PusatRakyatLB and got the new PusatRakyatLB ready for Anti-Gerrymandering Week.

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(Packing up the old pusat.)

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(We got down on our hands and knees to polish the wooden floor at the new pusat.)

I would recommend everyone to joinSekolahAktivisme. The enthusiasm the murid-murid have is very contagious. For the few short months I was with sekolah, I had the time of my life.

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