The Association for Community and Dialogue welcomes Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s plans for a new policy driven multi-ethnic youth platform that could potentially turn into a political party.
It is hoped that the new movement will not turn merely into a capitalist-driven technocratic movement or merely claim back politics from the old guard, but rather become a multi-ethnic youth movement that understands the value of local democracy, environmental preservation, human capital development and social security.
Malaysians today deserve a break from the old tired ethno-corporate- driven politics imbued in monetary handouts and the influence of powerful corporate entities on political elites and their respective political parties.
The continual use of money politics for power does not happen in a vacuum, it has an ideology, a structure and a system that continues, even if another government comes to power.
Any government that comes to power has to work with the existing system of entrenched interests, whether it is vested politics, bureaucratic self-sufficiency or corporate driven.
For example, the Pakatan Harapan 2018 general election promise for a minimum wage of RM1,500 was vehemently opposed by corporate interests and it ended up with only a mild, insignificant increase.
The U-turn on shutting down the Lynas rare earth plant is another example where environmental concern was put aside to meet corporate interests.
If the local people’s concern about preserving the environment had been considered out of respect for local democracy, such a U-turn could have been avoided.
The lack of multi-skilled interdisciplinary training and an absence of comprehensive government-invested social security has resulted in an underdevelopment of human capital in the country.
The underlying new liberal ideology that has permeated the political landscape since the 1980s needs to be scrapped.
What’s more, we now witness a plague, the coronavirus crisis, which has its roots in environmental degradation and the failure to learn lessons from the Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) pandemic in 2003.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and prevention, three-quarters of new or emerging diseases that infect humans originate from animals.
Biological research suggests that Covid -19 and a high proportion of emerging diseases are zoonoses (diseases that are transmitted between animals and humans).
Environmental degradation brings about close proximity between humans and wildlife.
Therefore, it is hope that the new youth movement led by Syed Saddiq will take a holistic and comprehensive approach to political reforms that would do away with neoliberal economic system and move towards a system that serves the common good.
It starts by valuing local democracy, environmental preservation, human capital development and social security.