More young Malaysians are more informed about the importance of voting and letting their voices be heard
By KEVIN WONG / Pic By HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN
Young urban Malaysians will be an important segment of voters that political parties from both sides would like to have in their camp on the election day next week.
Both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan have put in a lot of effort to include young Malaysians in their campaign messages, but are they getting through?
A snapshot of their expectations can be gleaned from conversations with young Malaysians in Petaling Jaya (PJ) recently.
May Lim, a 27-year-old senior communication executive, said she would be voting on May 9 because it is her duty as a Malaysian to do so.
“This will be my second time to vote in a general election, and I hope the winning candidate will be someone who is clean and transparent, to serve the constituent and the people with the right attitude.
“At the same time, I do hope he or she will be someone who is down to earth,” she said.
However, May said for many young Malaysians, it is still hard to connect with political parties because they see their values are not well represented.
“I think most voters will find it a struggle to connect with candidates (both ruling and Opposition parties), as many do not see their values converge. This is especially with the younger voters as they want quite different things now.
“Many of them are looking for their own personal goals and liberties. And as you can see, this has happened in Hong Kong where young activists there are not protesting about higher costs of living, but for democracy and an open government.”
Despite the disconnect, May said she has been encouraging her friends to exercise their rights in this election.
She said it would be ideal to have a clean and transparent government; however, it would be a start for the next government to at least plug leakages and eliminate corruption.
“This will help save the country from such waste which can be then channelled back towards helping the nation to grow,” she said.
With regard to the common grouses Malaysians are facing, she shared that the income levels are not proportionate to the rising cost of living.
“It is a structural issue and I hope this issue will be addressed in GE14 (14th General Election), and not being ‘solved’ through one-off cash handouts.
“One more thing that must be rectified is the water disruption in the Klang Valley,” she added.
A 33-year-old freelance photographer, who only wants to be known as Raj, said he will vote because it is the only way for a change.
“We can riot on the streets and post our grievances on social media; however, it will not change anything. Through voting in GE14, the voice of Malaysians will be heard, and they have the power to make the change the country needs,” he said.
He added that there is a need for a change in leadership as the country has been under the same ruling party for far too long.
“How would the ruling party improve if they are never threatened to lose their position? Being too comfortable will make you complacent to improve and grow,” he said.
Raj felt that there are many Malaysians who have given on voting due to the “incidents” in the previous elections.
“However, with the Internet and social media, people have become more educated about the situation in our country.
“And with that said, I have been encouraging my friends to vote in this coming election as every vote counts, and it will help Malaysia evolve,” he said.
Business owner Mohd Rashid Zainul Mohd Hassim, 31, said as a responsible citizen, he would be exercising his right and vote in GE14.
“With regard to whatever the parties are campaigning, what I will be looking at now is how the future ruling coalition will improve education and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as they are the key to a successful nation,” he said.
He believes more millennials will be casting their votes this time as they are more informed about the importance of voting and letting their voices be heard.
“The majority of millennials are already in the workforce and will sooner or later take over the entire workforce. So, it is even more important for them to make an independent decision as it will affect their livelihood in the future.
Mohd Rashid hopes to see the next coalition providing more support to those who are stuck in the sandwich generation.
“So, this would mean making houses more affordable, wages to be paid on par with industry standards and more opportunities for SMEs to be exposed to world-class business standards, as this group has to cater to their children as well as ageing parents,” he said, adding that Malaysians are just looking for a fair and clean election at the end of the day.
Living in PJ for almost all her life, Lim Su Yuen, a 23-year-old content writer, will be voting for the first time.
“I am voting to practise my civic duty and also be a part of the nation’s history. Besides wanting a change for the country, I hope to see Malaysia continuing to grow as it is not short on natural resources,” she said, adding that she hopes the next ruling coalition will not let this go to waste.
Su Yuen also hopes the new government to provide financial education and planning for young adults.
“Personally, I am currently at a stage where I have just purchased my first car and am responsible for other commitments. It will be great for the new government to provide some sort of guidance on how to invest and plan wisely.
“At the same time, there are not many organisations or public institutions that assist with this in an interesting manner for young adults to pay attention to,” she said.
In addition, she would like to see the new ruling coalition increasing road safety as many of the rules have been largely ignored.
“I do hope they will strictly enforce the regulations as it will help improve the current situation. There are too many road accidents and cars being double-parked everywhere,” she said.
Meanwhile, Valerie Ng, 29, who works in Singapore as a lab assistant, said she would not be voting in this GE.
“It is rather disappointing as I was recently transferred to a new department at my workplace. It will be tough to take two days of leave, being fairly new to the job.
“It would have been better had GE14 fallen on a weekend instead of a weekday,” she said, adding that her husband will be flying back to Kuala Lumpur to vote.
Likewise, for 25-year-old accountant Charlie Ng, he will not be flying back from Brisbane, Australia, to vote in GE14.
“My parents have been bugging me to come back to exercise my rights as a Malaysian citizen. However, looking at how things are, I do not think it would matter whether I vote or not.
“This time round, I will be sitting on the fence and watch from afar on how things turn out in GE14. All I hope is there will be no violence and chaos amid the announcement of the results,” he said.