Changing the Nation: Do the Youth Need to Take a Stand? | The Full Frontal

Changing the Nation: Do the Youth Need to Take a Stand?

The year was 2013, the calendar marked 5th May. I was fourteen and the only constant worry I had for the next morning was either bringing the wrong textbooks to school or having a surprise math quiz in class. But it was finally D-day, the day I was looking forward to the most. It was the GE-13 election and a series of events went down. First, we had the indelible ink that was then reported it wasn’t so indelible after all. Then, we had randomly marked ballot boxes being swooped into the polling stations.

Not forgetting, of course, the “magic blackout”, a term that was used by the many angry Malaysians who believed that extra votes were smuggled in under the cover of temporary blackness. Remembering vividly how that was possibly the only time me and my classmates were allowed by our parents to stay up late on a school night, I also remembered the tragic midnight announcement of having to recount the votes.

I blinked once and suddenly I wasn’t 14 anymore. I was a full-fledged university student all gushing up for the upcoming GE-14 election. While sitting in front of the flat screen tv, indulging in the live news and anxiously refreshing my Twitter page for the voting results to flood my feed, I mustered everything in me to will myself to see an outcome that Malaysians from all walks of life deserves. Soon enough, the results were announced and I sighed with relief while my eyes gleamed with hope.

Malaysians living in the capital had begun rejoicing and the thousands in Selangor cheered and broke into a chorus of the national anthem. Some even took it to the streets and cheered with the party flags. Chants of “long live Tun” were heard. It was truly a sight to see, a moment to be put down in our history books.

But that was then, and this is now.

Our current prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has proposed “a state of emergency” in the absence of an actual threat to national security. Although there’s no such thing as an “economic emergency” stated in the constitution, it was said that this measure was taken to battle the uprising cases of COVID-19. Many people are speculating that this is an act merely aimed at keeping the government in power and are voicing out on how there are many other legislations already in place that can be used to strengthen the SOP and curb COVID-19.

Voting as a New Voter

Proud Malaysian
A picturesque scenery, a pretty sunset and a proud Malaysian. Source from Pinterest

A couple of weeks ago, I made an instagram poll and asked my mutuals who had just turned 21, the legal age of voting on how it feels like to be the new voter on the block. Some were more inclined to the pessimistic side and said “they keep jumping parties, they don’t do their job, tired of the two-party system not working” whereas some who were more on the optimistic side went on to justify why we should exercise our power to vote.

As much as I am enthusiastic to weigh my options and vote for the very first time, I can’t help but wonder if the opinions of the people around me subconsciously influence my judgement on picking the most calibre team of leaders to lead our nation.

Just the other day, on a breezy morning I was greeted by my neighbour and what seemed like a small talk took a swift turn into Malaysian politics. As a Malaysian I truly believe you can never really run from these two words, election and politics.

My neighbour then proceeded to tell me how inane it feels for the government to be risking the  public’s life just for a mere vote. The thought of people crossing oceans just to vote amidst this pandemic perplexed her. She wondered why would anyone take such risks for something so trivial as voting, she believes that regardless of the initiative and effort,the country would remain the same which is a huge downfall.

For a moment I was caught off-guard, I had presumed that people who are a whole lot older than me would have more care about politics than I do. But alas, I stood corrected. It really was a situation of “If it’s not you, then who?”

Youths and Political Parties

Voting Ballots
Drop your votes in, exuberate confidence. Source from DiscoverKL

Why do we need more youths involved in politics? They are not in the right frame of mind to make such delicate decisions.

Such is the thinking of older people who adhere to the old-style politics. Age discrimination has been normalised to the point where it has also seeped through the political environment. Someone who is younger with a proposed same view as someone who is a lot older and experienced is frowned upon. The Asian upbringing of respecting the elderly has inadvertently discouraged the younger generations from standing up for themselves.

It is time that all of us, collectively, put an end to this ancient thinking. The younger generation has proven time and time again that they can move mountains if given the chance. An example clear as day would be Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, our previous Minister of Youths and Sports, as well as Prabakaran Parameswaran, Malaysia’s youngest ever appointed parliament member. Despite their young age, both of them took the initiative to be active in politics and stood at the frontlines for the youth.

The nation needs leaders who can bring innovative and creative thinking skills to the table. What we need is a political party that cares about topics such as job opportunities, climate change and living costs. Unfortunately, the majority of politicians in Malaysia are from the older generation, which means that their priorities tend to be very different compared to those of us in the younger generations.

If the youth really are the “future leaders”, then equal opportunities should be given and pathways should be paved for them to take the lead without being shunned away with snide remarks.

The Myth

The grandiose KL captured in black and white. Source from gayatravel

Ignorance may be bliss, but being apathetic towards politics isn’t. To stand on the sidelines is a privilege that not everyone can afford. While you and your peers might be thinking about migrating to another country, the least fortunate are waking up everyday and walking for hours to the nearest river just to get a clean water supply.

My one vote surely wouldn’t bring about a big difference.

This phrase is a myth as one vote is all it takes to change history. Can you imagine if hundreds and thousands of us thought about voting this way? Then it is no longer just you, it’s a whole nation of people that are not exercising their power to vote. 

Why should the youth care about politics? 

I personally believe that we need to care about politics because they concern us more. The moment we turn our backs to politics is the moment we give absolute power and all the capacities to the elites in parliament. Sitting around in hopes that someone will take our place and stand up for our opinion is mindless thinking.

As melodramatic as it may sound, we need to take responsibility and do our part. Us, the young ones, need to realise that we have the world in our hands and when we take our eyes off politics, that’s when we drop it. 

Man in the Mirror

Vote Now
Play your role, vote now! Source from BBC

If you want to change your surroundings, you have to begin from the man in the mirror. You can be the catalyst that works towards making a big difference. Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. 

There’s no point meeting up with your friends weekly at the nearby mamak and complaining about our nation’s political system without taking any further actions to improve it. Walk your talk and vote for a party after fully considering their performances and policies.

The truth is, we only have the ability to change the government at the ballot box. You and I, the ordinary voters, simply provide power to a coalition or a party that may or may not break said promises. Regardless, we as the citizens of the nation still have to play our part and vote.

Do not let anyone take away your power to be heard, the power that leans towards making your aspirations, goals and dreams come true. Let it be known that youths of today are the leaders of tomorrow.

While we are on the subject of making a difference, read here to see how this form or urban technology could be a solution to a problem Malaysians have long faced.