PETALING JAYA: Contrary to popular belief that young voters are being easily influenced by their parents, it is these youth who live outside their constituencies who are influencing their parents’ voting decisions, says an Umno supreme council member.
Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi (pic) said while those who stay in their areas are easily approachable, outside voters are more likely to be influenced by social media that provide convenient, compact, concise, and interesting content.
Contrary to other beliefs, these outside voters are, in fact, the ones who would influence their parents' votes.
“Those who are always in their areas are easily approachable through youth programmes such as sports; they meet their community leaders or the grassroots. Unfortunately, the number of young voters in this category is not much.
“The second category is the outside voters; their numbers are more. These voters didn’t meet their community leaders so they can’t see what the leaders did in the areas.
“They are also heavily influenced by TikTok and they will influence their parents on who to vote for, not the other way around,” he said.
Puad, however, believed that formal political education was unnecessary and ineffective.
“It is better to be done in the form of cadres, modules, and camps such as the National Service,” he added.
Bersatu Youth chief Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal didn't discount the fact that some of the young voters voted according to their parents’ preferences, however, he believed many were capable of making their own judgement.
“The youth voters do prefer certain parties based on their value system and world views, for example, there is a clear demarcation, especially in the Malay heartland where in the rural areas, the youth prefer Perikatan Nasional over Pakatan Harapan and vice versa in urban areas,” he said, adding that the party value, ideology, and idealism shaped young votes.
Wan Ahmad Fayhsal agreed that there’s a need to introduce political education in schools, but it should not be done at the primary level.
He also believed that there is no need for a special subject on politics as it would only burden students, instead, the knowledge could be imparted through the History subject.
“At the primary level, we need to impart patriotism values, and the same goes for secondary school. That should be done first, then only we talk about politics in the History lesson, that should be enough, but outside of school, we have programmes such as Biro Tatanegara, which we changed to
I-lead (Institute for Leadership Excellence and Development), Rukun Negara - these are the platforms that we can use to educate our younger generation on politics,” he said.
He said teachers should also be equipped with political knowledge, including its philosophies, to effectively impart the knowledge to their students.
Echoing Wan Ahmad Fayhsal, Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the basic knowledge of Parliament has been covered in History, however, little emphasis was given by teachers.
“Students also may find that it is a topic of no significance.
“Schools could arrange visits to Parliament to add meaning to the topic.
“Now that 18-year-olds can vote, emphasis should be made by teachers and parents to impress on their students and children the importance of every single vote to determine the future they want for themselves,” she said.
National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Fouzi Singon said a module meant to expose secondary students to their voting responsibilities and its significance is necessary but it should not be taught as a separate subject.
“Instead, it could be incorporated into co-curricular activities or slipped into other subjects, since Civics is no longer taught in schools,” he added.
Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam believed that our education system focuses more on preparing students for the workforce rather than educating them on nation building.
Commending the Johor state government’s move to introduce a module for political education at secondary schools, Siva said he hoped other states would follow in their footsteps.
“In the past, students were taught many things about their role; how to develop the nation and citizenship but today, with our education system, I am not sure if they talk about (national) development, it is more about what job they can find after they completed their study.
“With the new prime minister, we are confident that if he (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) takes up this issue; we will put Malaysia on the right path.
“We need to emphasise that apart from education, the students should also be taught civic responsibility and proper discipline. There is no use in having high knowledge but failing to understand your duty as a citizen,” he said.