Wooing the non-partisan ‘young and restless’ generation

By Alan Ting, Malaysian Mirror

KUALA LUMPUR – It is estimated that seven million young voters will vote in the next or 13th general election and their support will determine the outcome.

However, a recent survey conducted by Barisan Nasional Youth Lab provided some insights into the thinking of young voters when it comes to national politics. Most of them are believed to be adopting a more non-partisan stand.

As the majority of youths are not party supporters, the survey showed that three in five Malaysian youths were undecided with their votes, or 62 per cent said they were still ‘sitting on the fence’, with regard to BN and Pakatan Rakyat.

The details of the survey, together with policy proposals, were presented by BN Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and his BN Youth Lab team to BN chairman Najib Abdul Razak last week, and will be made available to the public at a ‘town hall’ meeting with the prime minister, scheduled on Aug 20.

A series of surveys were conducted nationwide between March and June, by the BN Youth Lab programme, including through the social media, to detect relevant issues and problems affecting Malaysian youths today. The major concerns voiced by the interviewees were employment, education, rising cost of living and public transportation.

“They will vote for whoever they believe is better, in the next general election,” said the findings, which was conducted by a special research group formed to assist the ruling coalition in formulating appropriate policies pertaining to the younger generation.

The BN Youth Lab findings were very much in tandem with the current political trend highlighted by various political observers and analysts, said media studies senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya, Dr Abu Hassan Hasbullah.

“The young voters now are more liberal and constructive and they do not weigh an issue based on political ideology. They can just switch their support or react to a situation any time,” he said.

He added that the young generation no longer held on to a politician’s word or promise, but would instead, evaluate how the parties concerned would handle various issues.

However, the director of Parti Gerakan think-tank, SEDAR, Khaw Veon Szu, believes that most of the youths were still very much inclined towards the opposition, even taking the percentage of the undecided, according to BN Youth Lab, standing at 60 per cent.

He said that voters kept changing, from month to month, adding that the general consensus for the ‘young and the restless’ was that they were in favour of the “other side”,” in reference to the Opposition.

Khaw said the Opposition had some “fixed deposit” in the Chinese community and this explained why they had gone all out to register new and young voters because they viewed them as another round of “fixed deposit”.

One of the sectors that can bring immediate impact and big results that would strike deep into the mind and heart of the young voters is the revamping of the education policy.