Malaysia S Future Lies With Young People




The recent chatter on social media over the past few days have been focused on the youth in this country
There is, of course, talks by Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman of setting up a youth-based political party. While many have expressed views on the formation of such a party, it has put the focus firmly on young people in Malaysia and their place in Malaysia
There seems to be much support for this youth party, especially from amongst the youth themselves. When this party is formed, it will be a disruptive force in Malaysian politics and could become the ‘game-changer’ in the next general elections. Especially if elections are called after the Undi 18 constitutional amendments come into force
Existing political parties in Malaysia would need to react and adapt to this new party. They must be able to show that they are still relevant to youth and must be able to fulfil the aspirations of young people
The support for this new party is a rejection of ‘old politics’, the politics where young people are relegated to youth wings and opportunities to shine are only reserved to more senior members of a party
In this regard, my party, the DAP is in a much better position than others. We have the most number of young candidates in the last general elections and we also have the most number of elected representatives. Yet at the same time, we cannot rest on our laurels and must be able to react positively to this political development
The palpable excitement for this new party is also fuelled by what is perceived to be the patronising and insulting attitudes that older people have towards young people. The clips of Syed Saddiq himself being belittled and ‘bullied’ in Parliament by his fellow MPs caused angry reactions from netizens, many of whom are young people
The perception that older people do not respect young people is further enforced by how members of the current Perikatan Nasional administration handled the issue of Veveonah Mosibin, the foundation student who found fame by spending 24 hours in a tree just to get a stable internet connection
Earlier this month, Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Zahidi bin Zainul Abidin had confidently claimed that Veveonah had tricked the whole country with her video. He said that she was not sitting for her exams at the time the video was published
His claim was swiftly debunked online. Veveonah’s own batchmates confirmed that Veveonah was indeed sitting for her exams at the time. Zahidi was the subject of brickbats and criticisms
Zahidi apologised, saying that he obtained the ‘information’ from other people. It turns out, this information came from the MP of that area, Kudat MP and Deputy Finance Minister I Abd Rahim Bakri
Abd Rahim doubled down on his claims, in a textbook case of not reading the mood of the room. He posted a Facebook post insisting that Veveonah had lied. Yet, in an effort to show he was magnanimous, he said he did not ‘blame’ Veveonah for her ‘mistakes’, as she was young
His Facebook post was flooded with negative comments, so much so that he had to subsequently delete the same post. But to date, the deputy finance minister did not apologise for what he had said, even when Veveonah’s own university subsequently confirmed her story
Although Science, Technology and Innovations Minister Khairy Jamaluddin subsequently apologised to Veveonah on behalf of the government, the damage was already done. These two deputy ministers exemplified the attitude that ‘boomers’ (a derogatory term for older people) have for the youth
Young people are belittled, looked down upon and viewed with prejudice and suspicion. It is little wonder that the rallying cry of politically savvy young people these days is ‘now is our time’ (‘masa kita’). They have had it with the older generation treating them in such a patronising and condescending manner
Malaysia’s future lies with young people. But they will not wait for the future to come. It is clear that they want to shape this country’s path now. Those who do ignore them, do so at their own peril
SYAHREDZAN JOHAN is a civil liberties lawyer and political secretary to Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang. - Mkini

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