‘Be proactive in engaging youth’

PETALING JAYA: With millions of new young voters joining the electorate in the next two years, MCA Youth is intent on breaking away from the old ways, says Datuk Nicole Wong.

With the majority of these new voters being as young as 18 when the voting age is lowered and automatic voter registration commences, the MCA Youth chief said the Youth wing must be proactive in engaging with them.

“The significant increase in new voters means that MCA cannot maintain its old ways of thinking that is no longer suitable for this era.“The Youth members should be proactive in ensuring that accurate information on government policies is channelled to the new young voters.

“It is their responsibility to vote in order to uphold the values of parliamentary democracy and rights as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, ” she said during the opening of the MCA Youth 56th annual general meeting (AGM) yesterday.

Wong noted that these new voters are from “Generation Z” (born between 1995 and 2010), with thoughts and views that are very different from their predecessors who were born in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

“With high exposure and wide access to various information that could be overwhelming, they are easily influenced by emotion and sentiment, and this is very worrying. Their support of any party and leader can change at any time.

“Thus, it is a huge challenge for us to attract the support of young voters towards MCA’s struggles and goals, ” she said.

With youth yearning for their voices to be heard, Wong said MCA Youth should initiate plans to convince them that giving a chance to the party is equivalent to a chance for themselves and to make the nation better.

Although the youth do not have enough representation in Parliament and the state legislative assemblies to influence overall decisions, Wong said it should not be an excuse for the party’s Youth wing to give up on the next general election.

“We must continue to work hard and help the grassroots solve their problems.

“We want the people, especially the Chinese community, to know that we have heard their message in GE14 (the 14th General Election in 2018) and done self-reflection.

“This has pushed us to continue to fight for social justice, racial harmony and the country’s development.

“The defeat in GE14 has given MCA an opportunity to rediscover the party’s original direction and purpose, which is to develop Malaysia for all, ” she said.

MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon, who opened the MCA Youth annual AGM, said the new young voters will be the “kingmakers” in the next general election.

With Parliament passing an amendment to the Federal Constitution that lowers the voting age from 21 to 18, he said the number of voters will increase to 22.7 million by 2023.

“If the election is held after July this year, there will be two million first-time voters.

“If the election is held at the end of 2023, there will be 7.8 million new voters, and the total number of voters will increase from 14.9 million in 2018 to 22.7 million (in 2023).

“These first-time voters will be the ‘kingmakers’ and certainly the targets of all parties, ” he said, adding that MCA Youth plays an important role in attracting more youth to support and join MCA.

Dr Mah also said MCA should learn from the failure of Pakatan Harapan to retain its reign after a mere 22 months in power.

From a political perspective, he said, any party that leans on extremism, plays with racial issues, and gives only sweet promises will not last long.

“Pakatan is like a mirror for us to learn.

“It reflects the arrogance of a political party that did not keep its promises, with a poor performance in administration, and disappointing the people, ” he said.

He also said MCA must redouble its efforts to win over voters although it has returned as part of the government.

“This is just a transition period. We cannot gain support based on other’s mistakes.

“It is important for us to be fully prepared for the next general election so that we can do better.

“We must not behave arrogantly when we are good. When we are bad we must not give up either, and must continue to be positive, ” he said.

Dr Mah added that MCA has always been the cradle for nurturing future party leaders.

“I hope that the youth delegates will give their full support and mobilise their strengths for a brighter future for MCA, ” he added.

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