PM’s youth advisory group won’t quell discontent, says analyst

“Not all of them care to vote, but a government that’s trying to suppress their votes will only invite their revolt.”

(FMT) – The bubbling anger and discontent among young Malaysians towards the government will not subside as long as Putrajaya is not seen to be inclusive in decision-making and fair in enforcing the law, says a political scientist.

Wong Chin Huat said even the proposed prime minister-level youth advisory group, which will play a role in the formulation of development strategies, will do little to help quell the unhappiness over the government’s performance.

He said as long as the prime minister dares not face Parliament, any advisory group will only be met with cynicism.

For the ruling coalition to survive, prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin should seek a confidence and supply agreement with Pakatan Harapan and Umno so that the government and opposition can fight the pandemic and recession together, he said.

Under a confidence and supply arrangement, minority parties agree to support the government on confidence motions and supply bills which would otherwise result in the government falling.

In recent weeks the government has faced increasing criticism through the “Kerajaan Gagal” (government has failed)  hashtag on social media, particularly over its handling of the Covid-19 crisis which has worsened despite a state of emergency and lockdowns.

In Batu Pahat, Johor, a group of youths staged a protest blocking a busy road junction, burning flares, and setting ablaze a banner which bore the words “Kerajaan Gagal”.

Wong said the government’s lack of inclusivity in decision-making led to policies that were not well thought out and which would not get the support of the opposition or even of government backbenchers.

On double standards in the enforcement of the law, Wong said many have questioned why action is taken quickly against ordinary people but not against VIPs.

“As long as these two symptoms are not overcome, the youth’s wrath will not subside. It will flare up when another issue crops up.”

Wong also said Perikatan Nasional can forget about the youth vote before implementing Undi18 and automatic voter registration.

Former academic Azmi Hassan described the establishment of the youth advisory group as a “small step in the right direction”.“Not all of them care to vote, but a government that’s trying to suppress their votes will only invite their revolt.”

But the government must demonstrate that it is capable of managing the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic slump if it wants to address the unhappiness of youths.

“There is a lot the government needs to do. They need to show that they have the best interests of the people in every action and policy. This is lacking now.”