KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob expressed hope that youths will be more knowledgeable and concerned about the parliamentary democracy system and their role as young voters with the implementation of Undi 18 ahead of the next general election (GE).
He said youths played a big role in shaping the nation, especially in electing national leaders in line with the amendment to the Federal Constitution that guarantees their right to vote.
The number of youth voters, aged 21 to 40, in 2020 stood at 6.2 million people, which is 40.8% of the total 15.3 million registered voters, he said in a message in conjunction with National Youth Day 2022, themed "Ini Masa Kita" that was broadcast on local television stations Sunday (May 15).
"On March 12, 2022, the country created history when youths were first given the right and mandate to vote in the Johor state election, which recorded an increase of about 28% with the addition of almost 750,000 voters aged 18 and above, out of a total of 2.6 million registered voters, following the automatic registration under Undi18,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the increasing involvement of young people in the country's political arena was a positive sign and needed to be expanded widely. According to the Prime Minister, youth leaders need to be aware of the enforcement of amendments to the Youth Societies and Youth Development Act 2007 (Act 668) which involves lowering the maximum age limit in the definition of "youth”, from 40 to 30 years old.
He said the implementation of the amendment to the law could boost the participation of more leaders under the age of 30, further giving space to the group to hone their leadership talents and seek experience as much as possible through the space provided.
Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri said the involvement and contribution of the younger generation were very much needed in strengthening the spirit of the Malaysian Family, and for that, the government always recognised the contribution, achievements, efforts, resilience and voice of all youths.
"Furthermore, the government is always sensitive and concerned with issues that affect the youth, especially in reducing the unemployment rate.
"Based on the findings of the Malaysian Youth Index in 2021 for the economic domain, the score for employability is 42.01,” he said.
The Prime Minister said there were more than 20 initiatives that could benefit the youths directly or indirectly under the Budget 2022, including the provision of more employment opportunities in line with the development of the business sector thus putting the economy on the right track for recovery.
Apart from that, the JaminKerja Keluarga Malaysia initiative and the JaminKerja Keluarga Malaysia Career Carnival launched on Feb 19 aim to help strengthen the youth economy while the JaminKerja committed to creating 600,000 job opportunities with an allocation of RM4.8bil, he said.
Realising that the challenges after the Covid-19 pandemic will be greater, especially in the economic sector, Ismail Sabri said the government through the Youth and Sports Ministry was drafting the National Youth Economic Empowerment Plan for strategic direction in increasing the marketability and economic level of the group.
Through Budget 2022, he said about RM1.2bil was also allocated for various initiatives for the benefit of youths including the ePemula programme for two million youths aged 18 to 20 years old or full-time students pursuing a diploma or Malaysia Skills Certificate (SKM) Level 4 and above in public and private institutions of higher learning.
The government is also offering PerantiSiswa Keluarga Malaysia (the Malaysian Family Student Device) initiative to supply a tablet to every B40 student in institutions of higher learning at a cost of RM450mil starting this June.
"I believe that these initiatives are able to help the youths affected by the Covid-19 pandemic to continue to survive,” he said.
On the theme of this year's National Youth Day celebration, the Prime Minister said it reminded the people of the value of being in that (youth) age and should be utilised as best as possible, and this is also the time for youths to come forward through various opportunities provided in line with the "from youth to youth" concept. - Bernama