Voter apathy will lead to other problems, says lawyer-activist

Syahredzan-Johan

KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyer-activist Syahredzan Johan has warned that if voter apathy persists, it could lead to a lower turnout of voters in the next general election and a lack of confidence in the government.

He said in the last polls, voter turnout was exceptionally high at 85%, as many felt that there was a possibility for change.

However, he added that those who did not register could not vote.

“So you will have a situation where you have a government that does not command the support of the majority.

“It is already the case now, with the government having only secured 49% of the popular vote, but it could go down to 40% or less.

“This would then lead to issues of legitimacy. People will say, this is not my government.”

If the government does not have the majority support, the people would have no confidence in the government, he said, adding that the attitude of not caring and the lack of confidence would lead to a breakdown in the system.

Syahredzan was speaking at a forum on a survey titled “Public Opinion Survey: Youth Perception on the Economy, Leadership and Current Issues” here last night.

Of the 604 respondents involved in the survey, 62% of them were registered as voters.

Syahredzan said if the younger generation did not care about what was happening, the older generation would continue to make decisions for them.

He cited a recent incident in which the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had blocked the popular online gaming platform Steam, just because of one game.

“People actually did not know that MCMC had powers,” he said, adding that the way to ensure that such power was controlled was through a parliamentary process.

“Young people need to wake up. Whether they like it or not, they need to get involved in democracy. Otherwise, we will be in a situation where the government does as it likes and does not care. We will go back to a place of no checks and balances.”

Meanwhile, Merdeka Center programme director and co-founder Ibrahim Suffian said that voter turnout in the next general election would be lower than in 2013, but still higher than the 79% in 2008.

He added that the turnout would not see a drastic drop as a result of lower voter registration.