By Nor Imran Ahmad
The recent Johor State Election showed a glimmer of hope about youth involvement in the political process.
MUDA candidate, Amira Aisya successfully gained a majority in Puteri Wangsa while Lim Wei Jet came in second after BN beat PN and Pejuang in Tenang. This suggests youth candidates can receive support from the people, gradually bringing youth politics to centre stage.
A recent survey by Merdeka Center revealed that one-third of the youths showed curiosity towards politics which is timely with the implementation of Undi 18.
The youths need to start playing a more active role in the political process. Many of them now need to see politics as a career to pursue, to fill in the power vacuum that’s coming.
The average age of representatives in Malaysia is currently 56 years old. We even have the oldest politician in the world at 97 years old.
While many older politicians seemed fixated on staying in the game, at some point they will have to succumb to the limitations of human biology. Everyone will grow old and get tired.
Meanwhile, the generation of leaders in their 40s and 30s are severely lacking in numbers. It is estimated that 10 years from now, there will be a significant power vacuum in Malaysian politics.
This presents an opportunity for the youths.
However, as much as this is an opportunity, therein lies a major challenge for the next generation of leaders to overcome.
While the older generation’s challenge post-independence was to unify Malaysia, the youths today face the uphill battle to develop Malaysia as a powerful nation on the global stage.
Since its independence, Malaysia’s socio-economic policies have been largely influenced by race and religion. As we continue to debate about the need for it, other counties in the ASEAN region are moving past us, driven by merit.
We saw Hyundai moving their headquarters away and Tesla choosing Indonesia for their expansion, while Apple and Samsung are shifting their production supply chain into Vietnam.
Further, Meta and Google are excluding Malaysia from its Asian undersea network cable plan.
We need to have our own Malaysian-grown Teslas, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Huawei, Tencent, Amazon, Intel, JP Morgans. Only then can Malaysia be a high-income nation.
However, after more than 65 years, we are nowhere close to building any of those. In contrast, South Korea which achieved independence merely a decade before us, now has Samsung, Hyundai, Kia, LG and even a world-class filming and entertainment industry.
Malaysia on the other hand has been struggling in riding the wave of the 4th industrial revolution.
If this continues, the youths have much to worry about. What will happen to Malaysia in the future? Can it ever be a developed nation?
Forget about being developed, will it even be relevant? Or will Malaysia become poorer as a result of failing to compete?
This is the challenge of the new generation. That is why we now need young blood to enter politics and draw everyone’s attention to this challenge. Most importantly, this challenge needs to be overcome before it’s too late.
The youth should get even more serious about running the country. Be the change we want to see. Consider a career in politics, or at the very least, participate in the political process. Vote.
Nor Imran Ahmad is an International Relations student in the Université Catholique de Lille. He graduated from Kolej Yayasan Saad in 2019.
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