For the first time in our history, youths aged 18 to 21 have been entrusted to cast their votes in the coming Johor state election.
If the youth decide to exercise their right to vote in droves, they will have a telling impact on the outcome of the election. The outcome would serve as an indicator of what to expect in the next general election.
Our youth, faced with a myriad of challenges – a high rate of unemployment, wages that do not match their qualifications and a political ecosystem that stifles their freedom of expression – may well be emboldened to express their frustration through the ballot box. They have the capacity to sway voting patterns.
The established opposition political parties need to formulate programmes that can capture the aspirations of young voters. But have the opposition parties tweaked their ‘products’ to be in sync with the basic concerns of young voters?
A friend of mine describes the DAP and PKR as “old parties” who did not impress the electorate in Sarawak and Malacca. No one can argue with that as the results of the two state elections speak for themselves!
My friend also feels the “old parties” need to get off from their high horses and treat smaller parties with respect. He believes – and I concur – that the ‘oldies’ ought to rope in the youth-based parties like Muda, because the future is in the hands of the youth.
I believe our youth are receptive to a transformation of the status quo premised upon the tenets of social justice – otherwise demonised as ‘socialism’!
The writing is on the wall. Unless the opposition parties like the DAP and PKR evolve towards a youth-centred transformation of their political agenda, they may not find acceptance with the emerging young voters.
As my friend rightly says, the future is with the youth!
K Veeriah is a veteran trade unionist based in Bukit Mertajam, Penang
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