‘Resonating with youths crucial’

PETALING JAYA: The influx of youths on the electoral roll is set to change the local political landscape.

For Barisan Nasional, its offer to youth voters goes beyond just the promise of fielding young candidates, as it is important to show the young that the coalition can offer a government that can be trusted to improve the economy.

ALSO READ: Youths want answers to complex issues

“It is also the prospect of a government that knows what it’s doing and can be trusted to improve the economic prospects of young people,” said Umno’s Information chief Shahril Hamdan.

“For example, under the current Barisan prime minister, we’ve had consecutive months of improving employment figures nationally.”

Shahril, who is also Umno Youth vice-chief, said Barisan’s manifesto for the 15th General Election (GE15) would reflect what the coalition wanted to do for young people’s incomes and earning prospects should it win.

“Youth votes are beyond just those aged between 18 and 21. It also includes those who were too young to vote in the 14th General Election or didn’t register in time but are in their mid to late 20s now.

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“The total figure of new voters is significant and in many cases more than the margin of victory in 2018,” he added.

MCA secretary-general Datuk Chong Sin Woon said youths make up a substantial number of new and young voters and political parties must not ignore these voices.

To understand and appeal to young minds, Chong said MCA’s youth wing had been working the ground through various initiatives in universities, sports and also esports.

To ensure MCA was in touch with today’s sentiments, he said the party had various young leaders holding leadership positions, and it was set to field more young candidates in GE15.

“As shown in Johor, two state exco members are youths. This is the reform that is needed to make this party younger and more vibrant,” said Chong.

Nevertheless, he said MCA had struck a balance in promoting youth leaders and also ensuring that senior leaders weren’t sidelined in the process.

“For example, seniors such as Tan Sri Liow Tiong Lai. We want him to contest. So that’s how we get a balanced team to serve everyone,” he said.

However, Chong noted that youths were particularly disinterested in politics, given the intricacies of national politics due to changing alliances.

“Some of those who just left school at 18, they cannot differentiate between parties. So there is a lot of confusion.

“Whether or not they will come out and vote, that is a lingering question,” he said.

However, MIC Youth chief K. Raven Kumar maintains that youths are still interested in politics.

“We can see how vocal they are on social media and it’s good and we welcome it,” he said.

He regards youths as a dynamic group and their needs differ across different segments of the social demography.

“The needs of youths in the city are different from the ones on the outskirts. But overall, they want a caring and stable government,” said Raven.

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