YOUNG Malaysians appear still keen to vote in the coming general election, going by the findings from a nationwide study by International Islamic University Malaysia’s (IIUM) Electoral Study Group in January.
“A total 88% of the young voters we interviewed said they will go out and vote even though a majority said politics leaves them cold,” says IIUM’s Prof Datuk Syed Arabi Idid, who leads the group.
A total of 1,092 voters aged between 21 and 35 from the urban and rural areas around the country were randomly surveyed for the study aimed at finding out young voters’ attitude towards voting and issues of their concern.
More than half said they were not interested in politics – particularly among the rural youth (55%). The interest in politics is lowest among those with primary and secondary education (42%).
One determining factor that will push them to vote or not, says Prof Syed Arabi, is how optimistic they are about the future of the country.
The survey found that 38% believe the future of the country would be good or better while another one-third (36%) said it would stay the same – they do not expect much negative change.
Like other surveys have shown, the economy is the top concern among youth, irrespective of their background or education level.
Prof Syed Arabi, however, says youth voters are not only concerned about livelihood matters such as the cost of living and employment opportunities.
Many are also concerned about abstract issues such as human rights and freedom of expression, he says, describing them as ‘the hopeful voters’.
He believes that the young voters can still be the game changers in the 14th General Election despite the high number of those aged 21 to 30 years old who have not registered (over 2.5 million) and the #undirosak campaign.
However, Prof Syed Arabi is of the view that the #undirosak campaign – estimated to potentially influence only 1% of the total 14.6 million registered voters – is too small to have a significant impact.
But he hopes politicians will take heed of their message – that they are unhappy with the leaders from both sides of the political divide – and put up new faces at the polls and come up with good ideas to take the country forward.
As the study showed, the young voters are equally divided on whether to choose party or candidate in GE14.
“But it is apparent that a big portion of the young voters are concerned about the quality of their candidates,” says Prof Syed Arabi.
Political education the key