Bangsa Johor and the emergence of new political power in Malaysia

23 Feb 2022 06:00am
Youths are hungry for change
Youths are hungry for change

SHAH ALAM - For years, youths have been branded as immature, perceived as hot-blooded ready to strike on any small issue raised by the old guards.

But after the Malaysian parliament approved a bill to reduce the voting age for polls from 21 to 18, there has been a sudden shift within the old guards desperately trying to woo these young voters.

Youths are hungry for change. Their needs as seen in social media platforms range from freedom of voice and expression, better education, human rights, decent living, affordable housing and better jobs.

Most youths would have been exposed to some level of politics through student organisations but with no training working as political interns or with no proper access to policymakers, they would have had to learn as they moved along.

But the desire for change saw them coming together to lobby and to finally be part of politics through Undi18 or voting for 18-year-old.

This did not come easy as the youths spent months and weeks planning and organising forums and town halls to raise public awareness and garner support. A lot of planning would have gone into planning this.

With the emergence of Muda, the two-month-old party led by the 29-year old former Cabinet minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, the momentum to get youths to come out to vote is growing.

But will the youths come out to vote in Johor polls?

Akademi Nusantara senior fellow (strategic research) Azmi Hassan said unlike Melaka polls, more younger voters in Johor are expected to vote.

"The scenario in Johor is different than the recent Melaka polls.

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"They are proud of their Bangsa Johor slogan and youths want to be the trendsetters, show the country that they can make a difference in politics," he told Sinar Daily.

Furthermore, the senior academician said young Johoreans have seen the impact created by Singapore youths in 2020 polls where for the first time 10 parliamentary seats went to the opposition.

"They feel if youths in Singapore can make a change, why not us?, Azmi added.

Going by the political instability for the past 2 years in Malaysia after the collapse of PH administration in 2020, he said the youths in Johor may want to put their state in order.

Furthermore, young voters may also come out to vote to show their Singaporean counterparts that they are equally keen in politics.

"It is a way to show the neighbouring country that they are equally educated and they too can make a difference," he added.

Awang Pawi of Universiti Malaya said youth support would depend on issues highlighted by political parties and the direction of the manifesto - a public declaration of policies and aims.

"They are likely to vote if the issues raised during ceramahs are close to their hearts," he said.

Youths would also want to know how effective the manifesto in developing the state for the next five years. Due to these two factors, he said it may still be too early to know if youths would vote.

Umno's number 2 Mohamad Hasan had recently said there are additional 750,000 voters from the 1.8 million voters who had cast their ballots in the 2018 general election. Out of that, almost 30% of the new voters are Undi18 voters.