Expand democratic space to get young involved, says Saifuddin

(Bernama) – The national democratic process and structure must be broadened and deepened for direct involvement of the young generation in the decision-making process.

Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the young generation tend to be sceptical about politics, but have confidence in the democratic practice.

“To get their confidence, democracy must be improved. In many ways, transform the process and the structure, the institution of democracy, which will place democracy in its rightful place,” he said at a Youth and Local Democracy Forum at the Penang Institute here last night.  

The forum, organised by Akademi Pak Sako director Dr Afif Baharudin, had Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and a young activist from Diskopi Group, Teo Lee Ken, as panel members.

Saifuddin said the young had a very important position and they should be placed as a component of society which moved together with the federal government, state governments and local governments, in formulating policies.

“There were times the voice of the young were heard and interpreted as policy. For example, if we follow the chronology, it started with students asking for Bahasa Malaysia be used as an intermediate language in Universiti Malaya.

“Students were among those demanding for the setting up of a university using the national language, resulting in the birth of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Students, were among the most vocal in asking for the setting up of an Islamic university and an Islamic Bank which were subsequently set up,” he said.

He said normally the young generation had three demands which must be met, namely, they wanted their voice to be heard, their roles recognised and their issues settled appropriately.

Teo suggested the authorities create an official network to involve the young directly in administrative matters and the formulation of policies at state government and federal level.

“If one notices, the young are being given selective treatment. Their involvement is more prominent in culture and entertainment but they are sidelined economically, socially and politically,” he said.

He said democracy requires the total involvement of the you