Distrust of politicians one factor for low number of young voters

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KUALA LUMPUR: A distrust for politicians and the lack of interest in politics have contributed to the low number of young voters in Peninsular Malaysia, a public opinion survey shows.

The survey, titled “Public Opinion Survey: Youth Perception on the Economy, Leadership and Current Issues”, showed that 70% of the 604 surveyed were not interested in politics.

Some 66% were of the view that politicians were not trustworthy, 54% felt that politicians did not care about people’s problems, and 66% felt that politicians themselves were the cause of many problems.

A whopping 71% of those surveyed felt that they had no influence on the government, and 75% felt that politics was complicated.

Some 69% felt that public officials did not care about the public.

The results of the survey, carried out in early August and released last night, also found that almost 40% of those surveyed were not registered to vote.

Half said they did not have time to register, and one in four felt that voting did not make a difference.

Another 17% of the number polled said they did not know how to register.

“Perhaps this feeling of disenfranchisement is what has underpinned the lacklustre voter registration results since 2013,” said Merdeka Center programme director and co-founder Ibrahim Suffian.

There are an alarming 3.8 million eligible Malaysians who have not registered as voters as of March 31, according to the Election Commission.

Two-thirds of them are aged between 21 and 30, making them the largest bank of non-voters in the country.

In a racial breakdown, the survey showed that Indians were the least interested in politics, with 75% saying they were not interested, followed by the Malays (71%) and Chinese (62%).

The survey, a joint project between Watan, a youth voter registration NGO, and Merdeka Center, was carried out between Aug 3 and 8.

It involved 604 respondents, aged between 21 and 30, across all states and parliamentary constituencies in Peninsular Malaysia.