Pesta Harapan Malaysia: Celebrating the nation’s hope

In conjunction with Malaysia Day, and the exciting and hopeful times Malaysians now live in, Malaysiakini has lined up a series of stimulating activities for youths, and the young at heart.

Pesta Harapan Malaysia 2018 For Youth, or PHM for short, features five key events, and a host of supporting attractions, to be held from Sept 14-26.

What is Pesta Harapan Malaysia and why is Malaysiakini organising it? Malaysiakini’s two co-founders share their views.

Q: Why was the name Pesta Harapan chosen, considering this is not a government initiative?

Steven Gan: “Harapan” means hope. This year is a very historic year. It’s the first time we have seen a change in government in Malaysia’s history. It shows that Malaysians have hope. It proves that hope can conquer fear, hope can conquer hate, hope can conquer despair. There is no better day than Malaysia Day for Malaysians to celebrate hope. That’s why it’s called Pesta Harapan Malaysia – it’s a celebration of hope.

Premesh Chandran: This is a new era for Malaysia. We voted for change and now have the first new government after 61 years. This year is a year of hope, of “harapan”. Everybody has hopes and dreams for Malaysia – that’s why we called it Pesta Harapan Malaysia.

Q: How did you arrive at the five main events for Pesta Harapan?

Premesh: These key events represent different types of activities to allow the young, the old, everyone to participate and express themselves in the form of exercise, music, e-sports, and e-commerce… It’s really about bringing in a lot of new endeavours that people can participate in. These are the core anchors of Pesta Harapan Malaysia.

i) Youth Policies Town Hall Discussions

Steven: The youth town hall leverages Malaysiakini’s ability to provide a platform to bring together the young people, who are the future of the country, with policymakers. Through that process, the government would have a better sense of what the youths of Malaysia are thinking.  Malaysiakini, as a media company, has over the years been providing that platform. The country is highly complex and divided, racially, linguistically and in religion. Despite all that, we believe Malaysians should come together to continue talking among ourselves, and through that to hopefully understand each other better, and to come to some agreement, a certain consensus. And even if we cannot agree, hopefully we can agree to disagree.

Young people have a lot of ideas and suggestions on a number of issues they feel very strongly about. Issues like voting rights, education, etc. It is important that the new government listens to them. This is one of the few events where they can speak directly to the government.

Premesh: It’s an opportunity to bring young people together, to talk about what’s happening in the country and how we can build on this change in concrete terms. Not just what we want to achieve, but how are we going to achieve them.

Malaysia is a complex country. The youths form the majority of this country so they need to be included and participate in building this new Malaysia. Youths need to have a voice. They do want to speak up; they are trying to speak up. They have their own aspirations and ambitions. They should be given that opportunity. We should hear them, include them in building the nation ahead amid these changes.

ii) Countdown to Malaysia Day and Harapan Run

Premesh: The Countdown Concert features lots of artistes that are up-and-coming. They have varied types of musical styles, different types of personalities, and come from all parts of the country.

Steven: The run will start immediately after the countdown to Malaysia Day. It’s a 5km run. It will be fun. People will adorn themselves with LED lights — yes, we’ll be providing the LED lights among a lot of other stuff. It’s one of very few night runs. September 16 is a great day for a run like that.

We are expecting 10,000 people for the run and a lot more for the events right before the run (concert etc). Yes, I’m running! It will be the first time I’m running at midnight. That would be quite fun. I think there will be quite a few Malaysiakini journalists and editors running as well.

Premesh: Yes, I’ll be joining the run!

iii) E-sports, Alibaba Entrepreneurship Summit

Steven: E-sports is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Technology, e-commerce… those are areas Malaysiakini can contribute to. A lot of people know Malaysiakini as a media organisation. Very few people realise Malaysiakini is also a technology company. We produce a number of software programmes. They include Manage4me, a subscription software programme, and we’re on the verge of producing a publishing software programme that will help media organisations publish their content.

A message from PHM’s organising chair:

Chia Ting Ting: Come join us as we celebrate the nation’s hope. All events are free to participate except for the Harapan Run and the Alibaba Entrepreneurship Summit. Yes, the Youth Town Hall, the Countdown Concert, the side events, the e-sports games – they are all free! Just turn up!

For those who feel the desire to give something back, we urge you to contribute to our beloved nation, through Tabung Harapan. There is no better occasion to give back to the nation than Malaysia Day. We will facilitate the donations to Tabung Harapan via Boost, Malaysia’s homegrown e-wallet app. In return for your contribution, we would like to offer you a complementary month of Malaysiakini subscription (worth RM40).

We are excited to organise Pesta Harapan Malaysia. It will be fun, we promise.

For more information on Pesta Harapan Malaysia, visit