Think tank: Youths happy with newfound freedom, but yearn for jobs

Youths voted for PH not because they were attracted by its 100 day promises but because they lacked jobs and were suffering from the high cost of living. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Youths in the country say they have “great satisfaction” with the change in government, according to think tank Iman Research.

Youths also said they were very happy with the new sense of freedom and openness in the nation.

Iman Research said youths voted for the Pakatan Harapan (PH) not because they were attracted by its fulfil-within-100 days promises but because they lacked jobs and were suffering from the high cost of living.

These were among the findings of Iman Research’s focus group discussions (FGD) on Youth Perception On New Malaysia.

Iman Research conducted several FGDs from mid-July until the last day of the 100-day period of Pakatan Harapan (PH) rule as a follow-up study to its earlier study on the outcome of the 14th general election.

The heavy youth participation in the earlier study, commissioned by Unicef, led the think tank to re-engage with these youths to collect opinions and perceptions of the new PH government and their desires and hopes in moving past PH’s first 100 days in power.

The think tank’s head of research Vila Somiah said it was important for PH to maintain and expand this sense of freedom to increase youth participation in Malaysian democracy.

“One thing to note, however, is that PH’s 100 days promises meant very little to the majority of our participants, with a number disbelieving most of the promises were actually achievable in such a short period of time.

“The 100 days promises were not a reason to vote for change.

“Some of the major issues brought included trust issues and some scepticism towards the new government as former Barisan Nasional (BN) people are now in the PH government,” said Vila when presenting the findings today.

Vila said one of the participants pointed out that the current politicians were actually the same people, “leftovers from the past” and that they were waiting for “these leftovers to disappear”.

Another finding was that all participants of the FGD supported the abolition of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) but said they were wary of, and confused over, the Sales and Services Tax (SST).

“Among the suggestions were the immediate need for more education on how the SST works. This request came particularly from people outside of the urban setting.

“For example those who live in Sabah and Sarawak, in comparison with those in Kuala Lumpur. They wanted to know how it could affect the people in Sabah and Sarawak in terms of lifestyle and job nature compared with those who live in Kuala Lumpur,” she said.

Also, participants, including post graduates and married youths, complained about the lack of job opportunities.

“Our participants conveyed to us that many of them were greatly affected by bread and butter issues and that is why they felt that it was necessary for the push for this shift or change (in government) to allow for more job opportunities to come in.

“One of the participants said voting for PH, they wanted to see how this would affect job opportunities. This particular line was repeated in all of our focus groups, all of them are asking, where are the job opportunities.

“Job opportunities are also seen to be quite centrally located, meaning that one would have to move to the Klang Valley to get a job. There is a desire by those who live outside of the Klang Valley that these jobs be made available where they live too.

“People who live in Kelantan, Sabah or Sarawak would like to see job opportunities open up in these states instead of them having to literally move to the Klang Valley to get jobs. This essentially affected how PH became government today,” she said.

One of the key promises of the PH coalition was solving unemployment among youths. Before the May 9 general election, the PH Youth wing made a pledge to create one million jobs with a minimum salary of RM2,500.

Participants said it was important that a better minimum wage be implemented to allow youths a stable income.

“Graduates who just came out of university and who worked part time found this important as they had to pay rent and also for necessities.”

According to Vila, some youths said there appeared to be no clarity on the economic direction of the new government. “There is no clear plan on how to propel Malaysia further in the international level,” she said.

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