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M’sian site makes learning about MPs a fun experience to encourage smarter voters

Since September 2020, a group of volunteers has been working on revamping an old site that helps Malaysians in getting to know their members of Parliament (MPs).

The old site in question was MyMP, which was an initiative started in 2014 by Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR). That project managed to reach about 8,000 young urban voters.

This time around, the volunteer team collaborated with MCCHR to bring the new MyMP site to life and reach more voters.

Get to know your MPs, RPG-style

There is a wealth of information about our MPs on the internet, however, knowing where to find them can be tricky without experience, and the data is also hard to digest.

MyMP was thus created to overcome these issues. According to the team, the old site was good, but MyMPV2 (as the internal team calls it) wants to appeal better to the Malaysian demographic.

It does this via a dynamic role-playing game-like (RPG) interface so it can disperse information in a non-partisan way more effectively.

This data is scraped by the team from sources such as the MPs’ social media, Wikipedia pages, SinarProject, which is a civic tech initiative providing open data on the government for transparency and accountability, and documents called HANSARDs, which are Malaysia’s official parliamentary records.

The easier it is for Malaysians to access this information, the higher the potential of them being informed voters, or becoming voters in the first place.

To further the aim of holding the elected MPs accountable, the team also wanted to track more data such as winning margins in elections, and the number of parties and alliances each politician had participated in historically.

According to the team, MyMP is funded by MCCHR through grants and receives no funding from any political parties in Malaysia.

How well does your MP score?

Being a Gen Z, I’ve got to say that the site holds my attention for matters that I’d typically find hard to digest or be interested in.

On the homepage, you’re shown 8-bit avatars of MPs, with 6 “MPs of the Day” listed. In total, all 222 elected MPs have been turned into avatars complete with profile pages.

These avatars are so well-done / Image Credit: MyMP

By entering a name, constituency, code, or area, you can search for a relevant MP and stay updated on what they’ve been up to.

Such as site would work best if the information is always up to date, and from what I can see, the team is updating records very frequently.

MyMP also employs a scoring system that gives you an idea of an MP’s accessibility and performance at a glance. An MP is scored on a scale of 0 to 10 across 5 categories:

  • Availability: Can you easily contact them on social media, via a service centre, phone number, email address, and more?
  • Transparency: Have they made the information about their assets (what they own) and their income (what they earn) publicly available? To be valid, these declarations need to be at most 5 years old.
  • Loyalty: How frequently or infrequently does an MP hop from party to party, alliances/coalitions, or constituencies? If an MP frequently switches loyalties, there’s potential that your vote for them may get squandered. MyMP provides such MPs with an 8-bit frog badge to signify that they’re a—as the team calls it—katak (frog).
  • Win Rate: In the next round of elections, how likely would it be that your chosen MP will win?
  • Work Ethic: How active is your MP in attending parliament sessions, questioning government policy, tabling motions and bills, etc.?

For further transparency, MyMP has also added specific badges such as a Langgar SOP (breached COVID-19 SOPs) and Disiasat (under investigation) for relevant MPs, with news sources to back the information up.

At the end of the day, the scoring is not meant to be taken as a clear indicator of an MP’s capabilities, so voters should take advantage of the sources provided by the team to do further research of their own.

Behind the project

The core team behind MyMP consists of individuals with varying interests and backgrounds. Its Project Lead is Chak, who’s the founder and former editor of CILISOS.my. He’s involved due to his interest in making information more fun for the Malaysian public to consume (plus, he had to do something to overcome the MCO 2020 boredom).

His right-hand men include Project Supervisors Seah and Mazni. Seah is a law graduate, while Mazni has been with MCCHR since 2013. She oversaw the original implementation of MyMP and secured funding for the current version of the site. Today, she still manages and implements UndiMsia! Projects.

Surekha is the team’s first official intern. She’s currently pursuing an external law degree at the University of London and has helped MCCHR coordinate its volunteer efforts with Brickfields Asia College (BAC) in 2020.

Besides the core team, these are the other volunteers on the project, with more behind the scenes / Image Credit: MyMP

MyMP’s site was developed by Makerzone, a two-man team that has diversified from its roots of 3D printing to offer the development of software applications and their implementation.

Meanwhile, the 8-bit MP avatars that add character to the site were created by I-Van from Alychymy Creative, a company that creates animations and games like Kuih Muih and Silly Chonkobo.

The site is available in both English and BM, the latter thanks to MK Zainal, who’s the first editor of SOSCILI.my, a subsidiary of CILISOS.my, that produces similar content in BM.

Being available in English and BM is a great start to increasing the accessibility of the site, and as the team grows, perhaps they could look into recruiting translators who are fluent in Mandarin and Tamil too.

This would ensure that the information reaches a much larger portion of the population, which would affect the scale of its impact.

  • MyMP has yet to officially launch its new site (the planned date is August 30), but it’s already functional. Check it out here.

Featured Image Credit: MyMP

Categories: Malaysian, Education

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