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Tuesday May 14, 2013

Let youths show us the way forward

I REFER to the report “Youths point the way towards unity” (Sunday Star, May 12) where they urged politicians to follow their lead to progress as a nation.

It is undeniable that the youths are the future leaders of our nation. And they are widely accepted as young adults.

Parents and teachers in particular will notice that today’s youths, especially school-leavers aged 18, who are either working or studying in colleges or schools locally or overseas, are more well-informed and knowledgeable with the access to the Internet.

Thus, it is only logical that the youths, aged 18 and above, be given the opportunity to take part in the political development of the nation and, of course, be able to vote in the next general election.

According to Wikipedia, the free Internet encyclopedia,18 is the most common voting age with a small number of countries differing from this rule.

So why can’t it be implemented here?

Certainly, after going through school over a decade, the youths are more aware and exposed to the moral, social, economic and political affairs of the country.

Their school lives would have equipped and enabled them to mature into adults.

In school, most of the time they get to meet schoolmates with different opinions and ideas.

They get involved in many co-curricular activities, which help them to make the right decisions and choices.

Moreover, at 18, most of them are capable of taking care of themselves, whether they further their studies or join the work force.

They are ready to be independent and to be on their own and be responsible enough to make decisions.

On the other hand, sadly, some eligible voters are visual thinkers; they see a candidate’s colour or religion to vote, and not on issues. Unfortunately, they also do not do enough research to be able to make an educated voting decision.

However, most of our youths do not have “colour-blindness” like the youths in the United States who voted for President Barack Obama for two terms.

Unlike some of our so-called intellectuals or thinkers with set racial minds, who keep on harping on unity of their one particular race as the key to national unity, the youths are more passionate about the concept of1Malaysia and the “we are Malaysia” first.

Consequently, our youths have the sense of independence and responsibility.

They assume that they are young adults now, able to form their opinions and take action to educate themselves further for the sake of their future, including taking a part in the affairs of their own government.

Hence, we should not deny them the responsibility to vote.

My understanding is that many aged 18 were quite upset that they were not able to vote in the recent elections despite the fact that they might have read and heard of issues extensively, and participated in public speaking, debates and mock elections in schools.

I sincerely hope that the Government will treat 18-year-old youths as mature responsible adults and give them their political right to vote in GE14 so that the government-elected will get a bigger mandate from a larger section of the population, which is the basic tenet of a mature democracy.

THOMAS KOK

Ipoh

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