Voter sign-up: Analysts see apathy in youths

Faisal-S-Hazis-of-Universiti-Kebangsaan-MalaysiaPETALING JAYA: Most of the Malays who have not registered as voters are probably urban youths, according to political analyst Mustafa Ishak of the National Council of Professors.

Speaking to FMT, he said young urban Malays, while being politically conscious, seemed unwilling to act on their beliefs.

He was commenting on statistics released by the Election Commission (EC), which showed that Malays accounted for 43 per cent of the unregistered 4.2 million eligible voters.

Mustafa said he believed the majority of these people were Malays working at blue collar jobs in semi-urban and urban areas.

“They feel that they are too busy to go and register and couldn’t care less,” he said, adding that some might feel that it did not matter because the government would take care of their interests.

“If you want them to vote, you would really have to go out of your way to get them to register,” he said. “Otherwise they might only do so if their peers or friends encouraged them to do so.”

However, another analyst said he believed Malay youths were not alone in being apathetic. Youths in general were uninterested in politics, said Faisal S Hazis of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

“Malays make up most of those who have not registered, but I believe this is a reflection of the demographics of this country,” he said.

“Globally, youths around the world are just not interested in politics. Look at Brexit and how the youths did not go out to vote.”

Faisal also said the decline in the number of people registering to vote could be attributed to political fatigue as well as the EC’s decision to prohibit political parties from registering voters.

He questioned the wisdom of the decision, saying he could not see why the EC should reject help in doing its job.

He said it made no sense to bar political parties from registering voters while allowing non-governmental organisations to do so.

EC Chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah has spoken of “many problems” arising from allowing political parties to register voters but has yet to give details.