PETALING JAYA: A Sarawak-based NGO has revealed that youths in some rural areas in the state are not aware that they have to register in order to vote in an election.
Tan Soh Kheng of Rise of Sarawak Efforts (Rose) told FMT many of the villagers assumed they were automatically registered to vote.
“We have to set up booths outside malls to get the youths to stop and listen to us, to educate them on their rights and to get them to register,” she said.
“We encountered youths asking if they really needed to register because they thought it was automatic.”
She said Rose also found that many youths in the state were as uninterested in politics as their counterparts in Peninsular Malaysia.
Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian told FMT that reports from his two sons seemed to agree with Merdeka Center’s findings.
He said this was unfortunate because “political decisions will have an impact on the future of the country and hence the young people’s future too. The least that they can do is to register as voters and vote in an election.”
A recent survey conducted by Merdeka Center found that a huge majority of peninsular youths lacked interest in politics.
About 70% of the 604 respondents said there had no interest in politics. About 66% were of the view that politicians were not trustworthy, 54% said they believed politicians did not care about the people’s problems, and 66% said they felt that politicians themselves were the cause of many problems.
Tan said many youths Rose spoke to did not know that voter registration had no closing date.
“They think they can’t register after the closing date given by the Election Commission during a voter registration campaign. They don’t know there is no such thing as a closing date.”
The Merdeka Center survey, which was conducted in early August, found that almost 40% of the respondents were not registered to vote. Half said they did not have time to register, and one in four said they believed their votes would not make a difference.
About 17% of those polled said they did not know how to register.
According to the Election Commission, 3.8 million eligible Malaysians had not registered as of March 31. Two thirds of them are aged between 21 and 30, making them the largest bank of non-voters in the country.