It has become clear from a poll conducted after the Brexit referendum that British youths wanted nothing to do with the movement to quit the European Union, and many of them have vowed that they would never again be mindful of the old. They say their seniors voted for nostalgia rather than the big picture, and it is the youths who will live with the consequences of the referendum.
This has led to a Facebook post by Saifuddin Abdullah, in which he encouraged all eligible youths to sign up as voters so that they could avoid the fate suffered by their British counterparts.
But who should the youths even vote for? It’s clear to us young people that despite the increased advocacy of youth causes in Malaysia, there is hardly any politician out there looking to even actively mobilise the youths in a serious manner, though one must applaud Khairy Jamaluddin’s effort to give some meaning to the Youth Parliament in having their resolutions heard as advice to the powers that be.
But then again, it’s true that Malaysian youths don’t often think of politics till it matters to them. And that is precisely the problem. We as a generation cannot allow ourselves to suffer from lack of foresight. To continue down this slow, winding path towards greying hair, and the respect that comes with it, is folly, and akin to fiddling while Rome burns.
The cold hard truth is that millennial values differ greatly from those held by the powerful elders all over the world. We desire greater openness and cooperation, lateral mobility and a more equal society, in opposition to the often selfish and self-serving decisions of politicians everywhere.
Surely, the question of respect for one’s elders becomes a moot point when the youths must realise that we have to begin protecting our interests in the political arena.
It is estimated that the youth population in Malaysia will hit an excess of 14 million by 2020. That’s just short of half our 30 million-odd population.
The most disillusioned yet idealistic generation of Malaysians are about to come into their own and will soon constitute the majority in the national work force. And yet, who is truly advocating the values, principles and ideals of the youths to the corridors of power, where the real decisions are made?
Sure, most major political parties have youth wings, but how many young people are offered as election candidates, and of those, how many have made it their cause to protect our interests and not those of the party?
The opposition perhaps does a better job in offering young challengers during elections, but policy making is still the domain of the entrenched elite. That is not enough, and it’s high time Gen Y got our feet wet in the political process. Speak to the youths on the platform of youth, and attempt to be elected on youth issues and concerns. Perhaps that should be the next step in the evolution of Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman’s Challenger group.