Part 1: Learner’s voice on voting readiness

Syazuin Sazali
Syazuin Sazali
09 Sep 2022 05:17pm
For illustration purpose only - Photo: BERNAMA
For illustration purpose only - Photo: BERNAMA
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Our flag has been raised up high. We plan to keep our flag flying by making our country known for our accomplishment instead of fiasco.

Responsible citizens are taking action in materialising this including those who are just about done finishing their high school studies. Or, are they, really?

Thus, should voting age be lowered from 21 to 18?

Undi18, is a constitutional amendment lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, hence, making 18 the minimum age for Malaysian citizens to contest in federal and state elections.

If so, this adjustment means that an estimated 1.2 million additional voters will get to cast their ballots in the upcoming election.

Out of these, three per cent will usually make spoilt votes.

“Lowering the voting age can help increase the number of voters thus producing more accurate pass while covering those spoilt votes,” Nur Izzati Adha Zuman, a 24-year-old student from Selangor commented.

This, my friend, is one sample situation where quantity is much needed than quality.

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First of all, there are countless pointers as to why many might consider lowering the voting age. For instance, people are maturing earlier, completing their studies faster thus entering the job market at a younger age pushing youths to be more critical.

Youngsters nowadays are more exposed to national issues and they have more access to information with the advent of technology.

Most youngsters I interviewed are genuinely optimistic and excited for their first experience to vote.

I remember when I first voted. It was 2013, and I was filled with enthusiasm to make a difference.

Every. Vote. Counts. Therefore, I did further research online on what could possibly result in a null vote and confirmed with my parents about the whole process.

It mostly made me feel more empowered.

The second was of course in 2018 and I was more determined than ever to make impactful changes.

Fear is definitely a core motivator for many to vote as the number of turnouts when I came by was obviously more than before. There were so many people that year!

Voting creates a positive opportunity for youngsters to feel heard and promotes responsibility. This is when they develop a sense of belonging.

Sharing his circumstance, a student from Selayang, Selangor, John O-G said, “I’m very nervous voting for the first time, unsure about who I’m going to vote as politics will always be messy regardless.” The 20-year-old continued,

“However, I will not be influenced by my parent’s stand. I will vote accordingly.”

On the contrary, Gajendran who is an 18-year-old student studying in Kuala Lumpur mentioned, “I’m confused with Malaysia’s political scene. We are moving in circles. I will surely follow my parent’s votes.”

Of course, not so much of secret ballots, after all!

Izzat Haqimi Adzhar, a 22-year-old student from Johor Bharu, Johor is highly motivated to vote in the next election. He said, “I’m all prepared.

Youths are active members of the society. I actively follow Malaysia’s political scene and agenda. Selecting the right government is critical.”

The student who also works part-time continued, “I respect everyone’s opinion and choice to choose their own party.

My decision is based on how a leader and its members manage their particular party and their action proven afterwards. Some promises are just unrealistic.”

Youth’s perspective and ideas should be taken into account when it comes to creating and building a nation that they shall soon have to live in, manage and flourish.

They are obviously going to inherit the triumphs and damages of previous generation’s decision-making, so why not count their views in?

On the contrary, Muhammad Sharafi Shaffiai feels that lowering the voting age is not sound judgment.

The 24-year-old student from Kedah highlighted, “21 is definitely better. Overall, even I’m not excited to vote. Any party which wins and rules the country will end up having the same traits.”

“Their manifesto seems dull and their actions differ after winning. Watching political scenes topped up with our own knowledge and parents’ opinions, both youngsters and older generations usually end up making the same old decisions,” Sharafi continued.

“As long as capitalists are taking advantage of the political scene, our country will continuously move downhill. I hope to see major changes next,” he summed up.

On the other hand, most opinions received from elderly citizens goes along the line of, “Youths do not have sufficient political knowledge and readiness to vote”.

This statement is being repeatedly used when asked for their perspective.

“Youngsters are filled with emotional turmoil when giving their views,” a pensioned educator said.

“They are at an age where they are most likely to rebel no matter what. It wouldn’t be wise especially if they start spreading political ideas at educational institutions without boundaries.”

Consequently, it is crucial to understand that Malaysian youths are not fully independent in making political decisions. Youth’s political knowledge mostly comes from families and friends.

“Although I feel that lowering the voting age is not a wise decision, those who are aware of the current issue is definitely able to be more independent in their decision-making,” said Muhammad Luqman.

“I do not want my country to flop and move backwards because of greed by irresponsible political parties,” the 26-year-old finished.

Youths who are keen to do more research and think critically tend to make objective decisions.

“Our votes tend to be more genuine because we are not exposed to any political gains or personal benefit,” Muhammad Syazani Akmal, an 18-year-old student commented.

Well, at least not yet. So fresh. So clean. Innocence is brilliance. Whatever it is, Malaysia Day is coming. Malaysia Day marks the joined day of Malaya (Peninsular Malaysia), North Borneo (Sabah), and Sarawak to form the beautiful Malaysia.

Imagine these views and opinions as puzzle pieces. In order to create something more beautiful, it has to be united. Like the beautiful Malaysia.

Band-aids cannot cover bullet holes. Unity without intelligence and wisdom is still no better than conspiracy! Together, we can do much better.

Watch out for the other side of the coin, next week. Enhance your critical thinking skills before putting together other puzzle pieces soon.

SYAZUIN SAZALI is a Subject Matter Expert in English language and soft skills. She aims to continuously advocate for progressive growth in education.

Linkedin & Instagram: @syazuinsazali, Email: [email protected]