Yesterday, 15 December 2021, was certainly a monumental moment for young Malaysians. The bill for Undi18 will finally be set in motion effective 1 January 2022, after five long years in the making.
Now, what does this mean for Malaysia, exactly?
Specifically, what does it mean for our future?
A New Generation Takeover
Let’s firstly just unpack what Undi18 actually is and what they aim to achieve. Founded by Qyira Yusri and Tharma Pillai as a student movement back in 2016, Undi18 is a Malaysian youth movement that aims to reduce the minimum voting age from 21 to 18 years old.
Besides fighting for the voting age, Undi18’s movement also fought for the minimum age of elected representatives in both federal and state elections to be of 18 years. Surprisingly (because, hello, Malaysia kot), a majority of both the government and the opposition voted in favour of the bill.
With the voting age range set in motion, Malaysia’s eligible voters rise up to 21.1 million starting the year 2022. That’s an insane amount of numbers. We have over 5.8 million new voters to account for and they’re not here to mess around.
Often overlooked due to the older generation’s insistence that “they (the youths) are not ready!” or “they’re too young to think clearly”’ or “they’ll just make rash decisions and make things worse”. Do they really? Or are you just mad that they’ve been calling you out on all your nonsense?
To those, I put forth the question of: “Okay, haven’t you made those mistakes as well?”, “Have we not seen your petty arguments in parliament blasted on our television screens?” What makes you think the youths can’t do a better job?
Just Because I’m Young Doesn’t Mean I’m Incompetent
The thing about youths that the older generation fail to realise is that they’re great observers. They watch, they follow, but when things don’t seem right, they alter it for the better.
They’ve seen an awful lot growing up these past few years, from the bendera putih movement, to the bendera hitam movement and speaking out about uncomfortable and inappropriate humour of adults towards youths.
Hence why the movement was put forth in the first place. Because of all the pent-up frustration they’ve had to deal with over failed government practices that are supposed to be implemented, but have either been delayed so many times or forgotten altogether.
The older generation don’t realise that these young people could potentially be a breath of fresh air in politics and decision-making. They have the potential to be a creative force and a dynamic source of ideas, as well as digital technology experts. They are hungry for change and are aware of what they can do to improve the systems.
A good example is shown by their use of social media to raise awareness of social issues, human rights movements, freedom of press, education and many others.
They’ve accomplished so much in such a short period of time. They’ve chosen to speak out against unfair treatment rather than remain silent.
Imagine what else they can accomplish once they have a legitimate platform to actually express their ideas.
These new voters have witnessed the ruling of the government through the eyes of their siblings and their parents. They’ve already seen what it’s like to live in stress and fear of the next day.
To ensure that they won’t also suffer the same fate in the future, they aim to vote for leaders who can help them get out of poverty and band together as a whole instead of worrying about minuscule things that could potentially divide them.
What Does It Mean To Be Able To Vote?
With the new voting age comes new concerns that the next generation is hoping should be fixed by the government that they trust.
According to an online poll done by The Malay Mail, among a few things that the youths are interested to see in the future are:
- Better employment opportunities for youths and fresh graduates
- Racial equality
- More environmental and sustainability related policies
- They also stress about how important it is to strive towards being a bribery free country in the years to come.
But as is, they are still new voters and need to educate themselves on which party best suits their interests and could better lead the country in the future.
We all have high expectations for what’s going to happen. So if you’re someone who’s freshly 18 and in line to start voting, here are some things you need to think about:
1. Do your research! Don’t just go along with the crowd. Don’t let others influence you into thinking what’s best without actually delving deep into your options.
2. Don’t go into a voting booth just blindly ticking a party that’s familiar to you. Please do your own research and find out which leaders you think are best suited to lead the country. Make wise decisions in choosing smart and capable leaders.
3. Your vote is important! Don’t go thinking that you have no say in who runs your country. Despite what happened this year, next year will be different. We have more voices to help us. More minds to speak out against the wrongs that have been ignored for so long. You have a voice now. Use it.
To know more about youth in politics, you can check out some social media pages like @YPoliticsMY on Twitter. They can help guide you into making the right choices on picking a government that is suited for both your needs and your country’s.
So what are you waiting for, my fellow youths? Go forth and start your journey into educating and advocating your right to vote.
Prove people wrong, look them in the eye and tell them that you’re never too young to do great things.