KOTA KINABALU, SABAH – The announcement by the federal government that it will be implementing the Undi18 soon is a victory for the young people in the country.
Persatuan Gerakmaju Kebajikan dan Kemajuan Sabah (Gerakmaju) Chairman Willde Edwin in a statement here today said although young people acknowledge that they are listened to, their voices and ideas are rarely heard.
“As a result, young people have the impression that their interactions with our society’s formal systems and mechanisms are tokenistic rather than substantive and meaningful…
“The simplest example is the appointment of Ketua Kampung and JPKK. Young people’s and women’s voices are barely heard. This disregard for the roles and importance of the two classes is a disgrace,” he said.
Allowing young people to have the power to shape the country’s future by granting them the right to vote would not only inspire them, but also would instil in them a sense of duty and patriotism.
He said Gerakmaju regularly engaged with youth groups and discovered that many young people today are unconcerned about politics, some even despise it because they see politics as divisive.
“This should not be the trend among our youth. Although they have their own problems, these are not dissimilar to adult problems…
“Healthcare, education, jobs, climate change and penalty rates, all affect young people in the same way as they affect adults,” he said.
Edwin said he understands why young people are wary of politics, especially because in Malaysia, their voices are largely invisible due to a lack of formal mechanisms for engaging with youth.
Therefore, he said his NGO is now devising strategies to fill this void and connect with as many youth groups as possible to establish an efficient communication channel between youth and the authority.
“We will engage with youths online and on the ground to hear their voices, and we will work together to create awareness within their communities…
“Once Undi18 is fully enforced, we want our youths to be fully prepared, to understand their political position and to be able to make their own informed decisions on who they believe are the best people to advance their cause,” he said.