Youths want answers to complex issues

Youth power: Parties across the political divide are reaching out to the young who have economic concerns. – AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Rising unemployment, better living standards, rising cost of living, affordable homes, quality education, climate change and electing leaders with integrity are among the pressing issues for youths aged between 18 and 21.

Parties across the political divide are aware of these concerns, and it is crucial to capture the minds of the 5.8 million youths who were automatically registered as voters earlier this year.

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“We have to address the issues of rising food prices, creating quality jobs, building more affordable houses, enabling quality education at the best possible cost and addressing climate change,” said PKR information chief Lee Chean Chung.

The new youth votes will constitute more than 30% of the 21 million registered voters, and Lee hopes to see more youth representation in politics to ensure that parties can connect with this demographic.

“PKR has one of the youngest and most tested leaders at the highest levels. Rafizi Ramli is only 45, and three out of four vice-presidents are in their early 40s.

“Representation is important in bringing related issues and speaking in the same language,” added Lee.

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Similar opinions were given by the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) whose secretary-general Amir Abd Hadi said the fledgling party has been active in the past two months with Malaysia Maju, a public survey.

Muda, which will be making its national poll debut, has been gathering public opinion on the changes the masses would like to see in the government.

“While this isn’t a systematic quantitative study, it’s a solid reference point to gauge what the public wants.

“From our responses, the youth mainly expect the government to provide better living standards, quality jobs with adequate pay, and better mobility around the city through better public transportation,” said Amir.

Amir said Muda aims to offer “fresh politics” to voters, which focuses on quality public service and less on politics.

Besides that, Muda is also working on “real policies” – with a focus on graduates’ employability, a decent job market for youths, and house ownership opportunities.

It also wants to do away with race-based politics.

“We are always engaging with the youth, especially with student groups, because we need to give them a chance to be the agents of change ... students are our biggest stakeholders,” he added.

Pejuanita Muda chief Dr Nurul Ashikin Mabahwi said the party is trying hard to attract young voters.

The groundwork has begun with visits to universities and colleges and an increasing media presence.

The party, added Nurul, wants to offer a leader who is clean and free of corruption.

That individual will also work for nation-building and focus on solving issues instead of talking about unnecessary politics.

Meanwhile, DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) deputy chief Young Syefura Othman stressed that political parties will need to highlight young candidates who can address and understand the issues faced by the youth today.

She added that candidates who are mature, knowledgeable on various issues, able to work hard for the people and have a good personality would appeal to and attract votes from youth.

“My focus is to give opportunities to the youth so that they can live well, be able to support their families and have their own home,” said Syefura.

“I will also try to expand the skills courses for the youth so that they can use them to find a job or start their own businesses,” she added.

Meanwhile, Parti Barisan Jemaah Islamiah Se-Malaysia’s (Berjasa) secretary-general Lukman Al Hakim said the party will offer a fresh line-up of qualified young candidates.

“They are young individuals with various expertise who can help develop the country.

“This is difficult for other main parties to do because they (mostly) practise a culture of ‘seniority’,” said Lukman.

Lukman said Berjasa will offer a new political stage for youths who are interested in being MPs, assemblymen or even ordinary party members and leaders.

“Berjasa, as a new and young party, will fill this vacuum,” said Lukman.

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youths , voters , GE15 , issues


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