They’re among the 7 Malaysians who were honoured on the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 list of 2021.
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To be named as an honouree on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list is quite an honour, and this year two especially bright Malaysians have been rightfully recognised for their incredible work fighting for electoral rights!
Meet 27-year-old Tharma Pillai and 26-year-old Qyira Yusri, the young co-founders of Undi18 who were just listed on Forbes Asia 30 Under 30: Class of 2021 for their incredible work at the Malaysian youth movement that promotes youth representation in politics as a social enterprise.
Starting off as a student movement in 2016, the organisation successfully advocated for the amendment of Article 119(1) of the Federal Constitution to reduce the minimum voting age in Malaysia from 21 to 18 years old, in just the span of three years.
From there, the organization continued growing and even pulled off the highly successful Parlimen Digital, a youth-led virtual parliamentary sitting to propose recommendations for economic and Covid-19 relief in Malaysia.
Fun fact: Undi18’s Parlimen Digital is the first of its kind in the world.
An elated Qyira told TRP that after 5 years of hard work at Undi18, it was an incredible honour to be recognised on an international level.
I’m very humbled by the recognition and I hope that more Malaysian youths can recognize that working in social impact causes does not mean you have to give up a big part of yourself. There are many avenues for youth political participation and being involved in activism and advocacy is a great place to start.Qyira Yusri to TRP.
As many can attest to, attempts to revolutionise politics in Malaysia is no easy feat. But Qyira is willing to take that daunting challenge head on, holding on to the belief that voting is a fundamental human right.
“I always believe there is no right or wrong way to vote/choose your leaders,” says the gutsy lass, “and we need to educate people on their agency to select their leaders.”
“Politics affects us all, from education policies to fixing the roads, young people’s voices matters because we are affected by these policies.”
With the Forbes recognition, the Undi18 co-founders are hoping to build on the momentum with 2020’s Parlimen Digital and launch a more sustainable and long term programme this year called Dewan Muda Malaysia.
The idea is to establish a two years leadership development programme for Malaysian youths aged 15-30 years old to provide training on policy making, stakeholder engagement, public speaking and parliamentary processes.
We hope to make democracy innovate and inclusive for all ages in Malaysia.Qyira Yusri to TRP.
More young Malaysians honoured on the Forbes list
Besides Qyira and Tharma, several other impressive Malaysian talents have also etched their names into the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30: Class of 2021 list.
For one, there’s Ong Yong Xun, a 21-year-old Malaysian who did not waste any time during the pandemic. Instead, he taught himself to code from YouTube videos while working part-time at a delivery company. In June 2020, the ambitious Malaysian released JomStudy, a free study app for students in Malaysia equipped with revision notes from high school graduates on the app.
The app boasted over 10,000 downloads within the first four months of its release and continued to grow as the pandemic kept schools shut. Ong plans to expand its list of study aids, including videos and end-of-chapter quizzes in the second half of the year.
Two Malaysians were also honoured under the Media, Marketing & Advertising category: Jaz Lee, Creative Director of Ogilvy for his incredible work as a creative director for some of the world’s biggest brands at only 24-years old, and Tan Guan Sheng, Founder of Ittify – a startup that built a network of more than 6,000 influencers, and developed software to match them with brands and analyze results from advertising campaigns.
Annice Lyn, cofounder of Women Photographers Malaysia was also honoured for paving the way for female photographers to shine in the male-dominated field. Her photography of Sabahan artist’s climate change artwork was recently made into the cover of TIME Magazine’s April 2021 issue.
Meanwhile, founder of Kuala Lumpur-based edible insect startup Ento, Kevin Wu was honoured under The Arts category for the highly unusual but innovative business.
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