In less than 10 days time, Malaysians will go the polls for the 14th time in the history of this country. According to the Elections Commission, 14,940,624 registered voters are expected to cast their vote in the GE14. 5 years ago, there were 13,268,002 registered voters.
This would mean that there are 1,672,622 new voters registered from 2013. Out of this number, a vast majority will be young voters. Spread over the 222 Parliamentary seats, these new voters could very well determine who gets to form the next Federal government.
Young voters must be aware of this fact. They cannot take their vote for granted. They must realise that the direction of the country depends on the choices they make in this election.
There is a perception amongst young people that voting will not change anything. There is also the view that politicians and political parties do not offer real choices. The extreme politicking by political sides on many issues and the failure of political parties to speak the language of the youth have contributed to this current state of affairs.
Movements such as UndiRosak have gained some traction. But at least UndiRosak proponents are sufficiently aware of politics that they want to spoil their votes. Some young people simply do not care about politics.
However, voter apathy amongst young people appears to be at an all time high. Some young voters have not even registered to vote. According to the EC there are some 3 million eligible voters who have not registered.
Something must be done to inspire these young people to care about their right to vote.
At least the political parties realise the need to appeal to younger voters. There are at least 26 candidates from various political parties, and 2 independents, contesting in these elections who are 30 years old and below. There are many more who are under 40.
The numbers might not be huge, but the structure of our local political parties mean that it will always be difficult for younger leaders to attain leadership positions in the central committee or supreme council. Thus, to have this many young candidates is certainly welcome, even if more work needs to be done.
It is hoped that these young candidates are able to reflect the aspirations of the youths of this country, and in turn, inspire more young people to care about politics.
After all, the young are the future of this country. They should not surrender the power to shape the fate of the country to older generations. They should not let other people decide for them.
It can begin on May 9, 2018.