Sunday, June 8, 2008

What can we do?

Young Malaysians (for now, let us define “young” as being below the age of 35) are typically idealists, always critical of current developments and continuously demanding for change and betterment. The numerous meetings I’ve had with contemporaries suggest that the ruling government is losing mass appeal among young voters and needs to do more to gain lost ground.

It is estimated that 65% of voters for the coming election will be people below the age of 35. This indicates the heightened importance of wooing young people for their precious votes. The major parties in this country need to do more to become more attractive.

Political parties need to:

1. Improve the membership application process: Not having forms and "misplacing” filled-up forms are no longer acceptable. It shouldn’t take more than a week to approve membership and issue membership no.

2. Organize more dialogues and forums for young professionals, regardless of political inclination or membership and establish a stronger network with the NGOs. Understand the perception of the young towards politics.

3. Embrace more volunteers and professionals into the party and not be afraid of losing one’s position. Similar to running corporations, a smart CEO will hire the best brains and managers and not afraid of losing his job to his subordinates. This does not mean that non-educated members have a lower value; however, parties need to always expand its pool of quality leaders to ensure continuity for years to come.

Youth party members must:

1. Strongly reject leaders who are selfish, arrogant and care too little about the development of society and economy.
2. Use their voting rights to implement change and not for monetary gains (easier said than done).
3. Continuously attract quality memberships

Young elected representatives must:

1. Approach young voters through forums and programs, not just spending time with the youth members of the same party to lobby for votes and strengthen one’s position.
2. Understand the effect of policies and obtain feedbacks.

Young professionals and entrepreneurs must first:

1. Master knowledge and become an expert in their respective fields.
2. Establish sound financial standing through elevation on the corporate ladder, investments or business position
3. Be more attuned to current political developments and learn from history.
4. Discard the notion that “my vote doesn’t affect anything”.
5. Formalize fruitful propositions (and not solely criticisms) through participation in NGOs or political parties or channeling their thoughts through their network.
6. “Turun padang” or reach out to the grass root level and help out: Things may not be as comfortable in the cities compared to the rural area.
7. Be part of the solution: Contribute one’s knowledge, time, energy and financial resources, avoid “cuci tangan” and don’t just let the politicians do the dirty work.

Young people need to realize that this is our country and it will be our “turn” one day to govern. The time to participate is now.

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