Born in the hustle bustle city of Damansara but raised in the mountainous city of Ipoh, Muhammed Nazhrin Faisal Sabri is a second year law student from the University College London (UCL) and a former Youth Assemblyman in the youth state assembly, Dewan Belia Perak (DBP). At the tender age of 15, he had the opportunity to represent school youths in DBP and was entrusted with the mandate to perpetuate their interest in the state legislature. Nazhrin recalled that his reason for joining DBP then came from a rather innocent place which was to hone his public speaking skills. It was not at all Nazhrin’s intention to partake in politics during his adolescence. However, the seed was sowed, and politics soon became an important aspect of his life.
Nazhrin sees the need to mobilise progressive forces in politics from all fronts in order to instigate effective and meaningful changes. Hence, beyond youth governmental platforms like the DBP and the Perak youth think tank, MP2MPA, he also participates in local grassroot movements to push for agendas he believes in, including via two volunteering and activist organisations, and a local UK-based pro-labour group. In Nazhrin’s words, we need to “utilize all channels available to establish institutional changes which are of direct concern to the people”.
During his A-Level years in Kolej Yayasan UEM, Nazhrin had set up a forum series called the “Will to Function” or otherwise known as “WTF”. With the growing polarization in politics, we often find people who hold different opinions on a subject matter altercate rather than paying attention to what the other side has to say. Their rage renders the communication ineffective and at the same time widens the political chasm. Therefore, WTF’s goal was not only to initiate conversations pertaining to some controversial topics but also to highlight what is often unsaid in these discussions beyond the antagonistic narratives. Nazhrin’s forum series aimed to dismantle false dichotomies and add nuances, thereby promoting healthy intellectual discourse amongst the students. Instead of standing aloof from the side-line, WTF was Nazhrin’s little effort to hopefully instil political awareness in his circles, to encourage them to take notice of the societal issues plaguing our generation and to engage with it rationally.
BADAN PERHUBUNGAN NEGARA UNITED KINGDOM & IRELAND (BPNUK)
Nazhrin’s journey in politics did not stop even while pursuing his degree in the UK. He is actively involved in BPNUK and was elected as the Chairperson for the organization in 2020. BPNUK, a student-led organisation was re-established and remodelled by Nazhrin and his team where they transformed BPNUK to serve as both a community organisation and an interest group that provides a platform for policy discussion and advocacy. BPNUK opens its membership to all Malaysians irrespective of race, religion, or allegiance. When asked about the objective of BPNUK looking forward, Nazhrin envisions BPNUK as an inclusive, democratic, and progressive platform for all Malaysians in the UK and Ireland to freely express their opinions on politics or any societal issues that are taking place in the motherland. Nazhrin’s reform was not faced with no pushbacks although he is ready to stand firm on his feet. Nazhrin remarked that, “the most problematic thing that is happening in youth politics today is that youth platforms are more often than not treated as a propaganda machine owned by political parties, which is far from its true purpose that is to be the pulse of the youths.”
Nazhrin’s commitment towards youth politics is admirable in many ways – the more so because youths today are rather detached from politics, though through no fault of their own. Nevertheless, democracy was built for the people and it should also be in service of the people. Hence, Nazhrin advocates that power should not be concentrated in the hands of a few but rather, new centres of power must be constructed, for example, by instituting workplace democracy. For politics to be and remain progressive, as many people as possible must be mobilised through local grassroot groups and agenda-based movements. Youths especially are a formidable force in this respect with their impassioned drive. The people will always be at the losing end if they pull themselves away from politics and choose not to partake in it.