Winning over undecided voters with #Forward Together

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By Danni Rais

Malaysians are currently going through a very critical period as politicians on both sides of the divide intensify efforts to win the hearts and minds of voters towards the 14th General Election (GE14). There will be those considered as ‘fence sitters’ still undecided on which side to support.

Danni Rais is President of the Organisation for National Empowerment (ONE)

The statistic of fence sitters is significant as they make up between 20 to 30% of Malaysia’s 14 million electorates, according to Merdeka Center and Invoke. This number cannot be ignored as this category of voters are sizeable enough to determine the next government. So how should political parties approach them?

The Organisation for National Empowerment (ONE), a non-partisan NGO with a reach of 2 million a year, has organised various programmes with the youths such as Our Future 2057, Pitch for Progress, and our signature career development workshop GROW. Having run it for the past 4 years, the common answer from all young people when asked what they desire, is to have a thriving future. Such future can only be achieved if everyone moves in cohesion towards the same direction; forward.

No development can come from negativity. Positive thinking is required to achieve betterment, be it for an individual, a company seeking success or a group working towards their target. Collective effort is required for any positive outcome. Similarly, the same applies to nation-building; a negative mindset will only beset the country from progress.

It is not possible to empower women without a united voice expressing their desire for equal treatment as men; to break the glass ceilings that obstructs them. A startup cannot triumph if it does not move forward with the ecosystem and innovate. The world today continues to evolve rapidly, driven by people who continue to move #ForwardTogether, from strength to strength.

Freed from political affiliation, undecided voters are more likely to objectively assess their electoral choices. They will evaluate the policies, substance, track record and promises of both sides of the political divide in making their decisions – and rightly so. Undecided voters will be more responsive to candidates that focus on positivity and delivery rather than those that engage in endless debate over trivial politics.

As we edge closer to elections, it appears those who play the primary roles of convincing people to vote for them seem to be slipping up everywhere we look. At times it appears that the adage ‘silence is golden’ should be applied to politicians who seem committed to making unnecessary remarks and targeting individuals. Ultimately, undecided voters are more likely to be inspired by forward-thinking agendas and will reject “low-class squabbles”. This is something our politicians need reminding.

Coincidentally, with Pakatan Harapan’s release of their manifesto for the elections, the young voters will look at it objectively and study each point and evaluate its viability. For example, their promise to reducing the cost of living is spot on. However, abolishing GST in favour of the outdated SST system appears questionable, when 160 countries have adopted the former and ended the latter due to its many flaws and lack of transparency.

Voters must ask whether the intention of the manifesto has the right prescription for the long term. When proposing policies, those running for office must be forward thinking and not settle for something merely for short-term political gain.

ONE’s #ForwardTogether campaign admittedly started off as an initiation to ensure people go out to vote, but we have realised that being #ForwardTogether is, in fact, more than that; it is a collective effort that applies to every aspect of nation-building, including voting. As such, it cannot be achieved if we as individuals do not work for the future that we wish for. That is our calling!

In this election, be judgemental but fair. In moving forward, we must be objective with our choices come elections. Do not vote with a negative mindset because you hate the other side. Vote because you truly believe that who you are voting for is the one that can bring about a brighter future.

The upcoming general election is only the first step, in ensuring as many people come out to vote and make their choices known. However, beyond that, we must not let go of the notion of moving #ForwardTogether, to apply it to what we believe in, and to achieve all that we can, together.

Danni Rais is President of the Organisation for National Empowerment (ONE)

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect that of FMT.