PETALING JAYA: Youth groups have called for increased government funding for voter education programmes and for job search initiatives.
These are among the top items in their wish lists for the 2023 federal budget.
Undi18 co-founder and education director Qyira Yusri told FMT she believed the Election Commission was too understaffed and underfunded to do a proper job of encouraging young Malaysians to vote.
“Just look at the overall size of the EC relative to the millions of people it has to reach out to,” she said. “It is incredibly disproportionate.”
She said the government should give it more money so that it could ramp up its Akademi Pilihan Raya (APR) programme.
“APR has an enormous duty to educate 5.8 million new voters by the next general election,” she said. “Voter education is a bipartisan priority and adequate preparations must be made.”
ARUS Anak Muda project coordinator Amelia Zainabila said the low turnout of young voters for the Johor election this year showed that more funds were needed for voter education programmes.
“In conducting the Get Out The Vote programmes in Johor, we discovered many young people weren’t aware that automatic voter registration was on and they could now vote,” she said. “Some didn’t even know that a state election would be held.”
Youth in Politics co-founder Loh Kar Mun said funds were needed to enable the government to continue with its initiatives of helping youths find jobs.
She said most of the assistance programmes had been one-offs and typically in the form of cash transfers., and offered only short-term relief.
“There should be policies addressing the structural issues behind youth unemployment, especially since Covid-19 has enabled businesses to adapt to technology, which indirectly cuts down on labour demand,” she said.
“Initiatives like reskilling and upskilling programmes will enable youths to obtain better jobs while producing better talents for the labour market.”