Fear the reason for youths’ silence

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PETALING JAYA: Fear of authority is one reason Malaysian youths don’t get involved in activities that may contribute to nation building, according to two youth activists.

Adrian Lim Chee En, who founded Mahasiswa Ganyang Akta Hasutan, and Adam Adli, a prominent member of Kelab Bangsar Utama, said many Malaysians who recently reached voting age were terrified of getting on the wrong side of the establishment.

“People are scared because everything is so sensitive and problematic, and they are afraid of getting into trouble,” Lim said in response to a statement former premier Mahathir Mohamad made during a live question-and-answer session on Facebook yesterday.

Mahathir urged young Malaysians to keep up with national developments and help stop those who he said were ruining the country.

As an example of a “problematic” issue, Lim cited recent allegations that Selangor Speaker Hannah Yeoh was trying to convert Muslims to Christianity with her autobiography.

Adam said he believed the education system played a major role in discouraging youths from getting involved in anything of a political nature.

He pointed out that the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 banned students from taking an active part in party politics.

He said the political practice typical to Malaysia had also disheartened young people.

Youths could be inspired and influenced by good deeds, but the problem was Malaysian politics was more focused on the pursuit of power, he added.

“It’s not that youths are not concerned about politics at all,” he said. “They just get involved in their own way and in their own style, usually through social media and not in public discourses.”

Lim and Adam agreed that many young people had not registered as voters.

“If young people don’t vote, they will have to bear the consequences of their abstentions as they are surrendering responsibility for political decisions to others,” said Adam.

Among the young people who responded to Mahathir was Datcainy Maniam, a 24-year-old who hails from Batu Gajah.

“Citizens who do not vote should not bother commenting on governance at all as they have failed their duty as citizens in the first place,” he said.

A 22-year from Johor Bahru who called himself Darren said those who did not vote had no right to complain about what was going on in Malaysia.

“All sorts of reasons are given by people who don’t vote, such as being lazy or busy or having no time,” he said. “But they are the loudest complainants when something goes wrong. Such hypocrites!”

Ivy Chong contributed to this article.