PETALING JAYA: Young people should be appointed to policymaking roles, say youth leaders, as they underscore the vast potential offered by youth in terms of skills and innovative ideas to build a stronger Malaysia.
While they commended Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob for expressing in his maiden speech as Prime Minister the wish to hear the voices of the youth, they hope that the sentiment will go beyond mere rhetoric.
Malaysian Youth Council (MYC) president Jufitri Joha said young people should be appointed to contribute to policymaking platforms from the grassroots stage right up to ministerial level.
He also called for selecting the Youth Minister from among young lawmakers as well as appointing younger senators.
“The youth in the country have a lot of good and important ideas to contribute to society.
“Most of all, the youth’s hope for the government is to focus on solving issues concerning the economy, the Covid-19 crisis and jobs,” he said.For a start, they can share their ideas and views on platforms that are already established such as the MYC, National Youth Consultative Council and Malaysian Youth Parliament.
Undi18 co-founder Tharma Pillai said Malaysian youth constitute a “massive talent pool” that the country can tap into to build a stronger nation.
“There is so much talent that our country has in the under-40 category, in the areas of entrepreneurship, research, science.
“We have people of various skills and talents, but there are people who leave the country because they feel their talents are not being valued or that they are being limited in terms of what they can contribute.
“So we need to think about how to enable and empower these individuals so they can build businesses or organisations on their own or create social change,” he said.
Tharma cited Undi18’s successful lobby to lower Malaysia’s voting age from 21 to 18 as an example of youth effecting change in the country.
“There has also been a rise in the number of youth groups pushing for social awareness and policy change. For instance, they are reading the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and calling for climate justice.
“The next step is that there must be action,” he said.
Tharma said for starters, Undi18 must be implemented so that there is greater representation of youth in decision-making positions.
Youth activist Varsha Ajmera said the youth can contribute innovative ideas and practical solutions, as exemplified in their efforts to help combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
She noted how young people have created mobile apps that connect those dispensing food aid with those who need it.
She added that the youth are also becoming more educated about issues such as mental health and the job market.