A fresh battleground to woo young voters in Johor election

by AZREEN HANI / pic by TMR FILE

THE Johor 16th state elections will be a fresh battleground for political parties to secure votes from up to 750,000 voters aged 18 to 20, following the implementation of Undi18 and automatic voters’ registration.

Political analyst Dr James Chin told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that this is a definite testing ground on youth’s voting pattern with Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) having the largest stake in this poll.

“It will be very interesting to see how these youths will vote because there was no record before,” he said.

“However, (voting pattern) also depends on how many candidates fielded by Muda, Parti Warisan Sabah and Parti Pejuang Tanah Air,” Chin added.

On Muda, he said the party has the largest stake in this election as it aspires to bring new political ideology as well as bringing the youths’ aspirations in Malaysian political landscape.

“That is why it has the largest stake in this election, but it is too early to tell whether they are successful or not as we don’t know whether Muda can put up enough candidates,” Chin said, describing the upcoming poll as a “rushed election”.

For the voters aged above 20, Chin said the voting pattern will not be very different — it will be Barisan Nasional (BN) versus Pakatan Harapan (PH) all along.

He did not dismiss the possibility of the 15th General Elections to be held in the middle of the year or by year-end, if Umno-BN manages to win big just like in Melaka.

Research for Social Advancement communications director Raja Ahmad Iskandar Fareez also expressed similar sentiment, saying that political parties need to compete for these youths’ mindshare and “provide a compelling reason to get their support”.

“In addition to established coalitions such as BN, PH and Perikatan Nasional, new parties including Muda will use this opportunity to test their strengths,” he told TMR.

“While this segment is now eligible to vote, it does not mean that they will automatically go to vote on polling day, especially those staying in Johor.

“Since this will be their first time exercising their rights, political parties need to compete for their mindshare and provide a compelling reason to gain their support,” he said.

Raja Iskandar believes whichever bloc that aspires to win the hearts and minds of voters must not only rely on fresh faces, but also put forward fresh ideas and solutions to address the plight faced by everyday Johoreans.

“Whichever political force that is able to chart a long-term plan to build back Johor and the lives of its people following the devastating combined repercussions of the ongoing pandemic, border closures and natural disasters will have an edge in this coming state poll.”

Meanwhile, Pejuang’s women’s youth wing chief Dr Nurul Ashikin Mabahwi said the party is looking to put younger and more female candidates in this election.

She noted that for now, the party is looking at contesting in 42 seats and also does not dismiss the possibility of working with other parties that share Pejuang’s vision and aspiration.

“We are definitely looking at bringing young and female candidates,” she said, noting that the challenges will also be in getting youths to actually go out and vote.

“That is why we are working hard to mobilise our machinery to convince these groups to vote. Some are not even aware that they are already in the electorate,” she said.

Undi18 group called upon Johorean youths to check their registration status and their registered constituency on the Election Commission’s electoral roll via its portal at http://mysprsemak.spr.gov.my.

“Undi18 calls on all Johorean youth who are aged 18 and above to seize this opportunity by exercising their democratic duty in the upcoming Johor state election. This election will be a historical moment as it marks the first time that youth of 18, 19 and 20-years-old will be allowed to take part in an election,” it said in a recent statement.

The group also urged for the fielding of more youth candidates in the upcoming Johor state election in light of the fact that the youth will be the highest percentage voter demographic.