YSEALI U.S. Fellow Summer 2017 Cohort:
My ICMA Fellowship in Malaysia has been a truly amazing experience! My host, Kar Lye Tam, is a Rural Outreach Coordinator for the Democratic Action Party in Malaysia based in Kuala Lumpur. Kar Lye regularly visits impoverished rural areas and works as a site manager on projects ranging from water accessibility, the installation of indoor plumbing, and the building of community venues and public gathering spaces. Malaysia has a strong system of political party influenced governance, therefore the most direct way for Malaysian citizens to receive basic services such as drivable roadways and a working utility infrastructure is not through their local government administration, but from individual political parties, often resulting in the delay or denial of necessary human services to Malaysian citizens based on upcoming elections and the voting record of the residents in those areas.
I have been able to see the work that Kar Lye has done firsthand as I have had the opportunity to travel to and tour several remote villages located in the Malaysian state of Sabah. During one of our visits to a city called Keningau, we were able to attend a gathering and celebration of the Orang Asal (translating to “original people”), an annual event that raises awareness of land rights issues currently faced by Malaysia’s indigenous peoples. The event was fun and fascinating. We had the opportunity to try several local foods and drinks prepared by different villages throughout Malaysia and witness native dances, sports, and competitions.
Back in Kuala Lumpur, I had the opportunity to tour the Malaysian Parliament, followed by lunch with representatives from the Cultural Affairs Department with the Embassy of the United States. We had a really nice conversation about the benefits of the ICMA/YSEALI program and how both Kar Lye’s organization and my organization (City of Goddard, Kansas) have benefitted from working together and learning from each other. It’s been such a wonderful experience so far and I couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity. More to come! -END-
Justin Constantino, Assistant to the City Administrator
City of Goddard, Kansas