Allow youths to freely discuss politics, says top debater

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KUALA LUMPUR: Politics should be freely discussed, and youths need not have to worry about being told that they do not know what they are talking about, said award-winning debater Jasmine Ho.

Ho said youths were very interested in politics, and that many of them were well informed about politics.

However, she noted, in university campuses, youths were generally not allowed to talk about politics.

“In classrooms, youths are not encouraged to talk about it so how do you expect them to be very involved in something when they are told not to talk about it?” she asked.

Ho said the way many politicians approached youths needed to change, or else the young would not be inspired to vote.

“A lot of times, the politicians tell youths that ‘you don’t know what you are worth, that when you vote you can make certain changes’. They don’t get inspired to vote.

“Youths are more like ‘we know we can vote, we know we can make changes but we don’t believe what we are doing can make enough changes to see the changes we want’.

“Politicians talk down to youths, like someone younger, when youths want to be spoken to like regular adults. It makes them feel disinterested, and they feel that they are not in a place that is welcoming.

“We need to change the culture, the political language and the stereotypes,” she said at a forum on Public Opinion Survey: Youth Perception on the Economy, Leadership and Current Issues here last night.

Ho cited the example of PPBM youth chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman. She said when he spoke up on certain issues, many politicians would say he was too young and that he was not smart enough.

“This is the general sentiment. Youths are perceived to be too outspoken and not informed, hence it is not their place to say anything. They don’t feel very welcome,” she said.

Meanwhile, to a question on depoliticising things, lawyer and activist Syahredzan Johan said the problem with politicians, especially the opposition, was that they could not stop talking about politics, and that everything on their social media was political in nature.

“So people think they only talk about politics. What they should have done is talk about other things, and then slowly connect how politics come into play,” he said.

Syahredzan said the issue concerning the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) blocking Steam, an online gaming provider, was not capitalised on by the opposition.

“The issue with Steam was a good opportunity for politicians to show or create that link between something which will concern them with the democratic process.

“(It was their chance to) Show them your enjoyment of computer games is now being dictated by a body which legally has questionable powers.

“But unfortunately nobody took that opportunity, especially from the opposition,” he added.

The survey showed that 70% of the 604 surveyed were not interested in politics.

The findings of the survey were released last night.