I read with great interest the recent comments of the Minister of Youth and Sports cum UMNO Leader Khairy Jamaluddin, of how the component parties of BN must embrace first-time, youth voters.
It was rightly noted that this group will play a decisive role in the upcoming General Elections.
Press articles reported that Khairy urged his BN colleagues to understand the concerns of these young voters regarding the cost of living and inflation. He also noted that many of them were undecided on who to vote for and had no strong allegiances to any party.
It is heartening that Khairy understands the importance of young Malaysians.
It is altogether just that their concerns be addressed—not to win their votes, but because it is in the country’s best interests to guarantee its future by doing so.
Still, Khairy should realise that much of the problems facing young Malaysians stem from the failed policies of the UMNO-BN administration, especially those of Prime Minister Najib Razak.
This includes the continual pressure of debt thanks to the problematic PTPTN loan system as well as chaotic, contradictory policies in terms of housing, utilities and public transportation.
It has not oriented the economy to produce jobs that pay a living wage and which can withstand the pressures of globalisation as well as automation.
Moreover, the current administration has shown little willingness to reform Malaysia’s educational system by removing the politically-motivated controls that have been imposed on students, academics and administrators. Education continues to suffer from budgetary cuts.
Leaders of the Federal Government have consistently dismissed or downplayed the genuine problems and grievances of the youth.
As a member of a Cabinet system which practices collective responsibility, the Minister cannot claim that he does not support the policies and processes which have made life difficult and the future uncertain for countless young Malaysians.
If he does not, he ought to have resigned a long time ago. His remaining in the Cabinet hence highlights his support and willingness to defend the direction that the country has been set upon, which is clearly headed the wrong way.
Rather than focus on partisan political interests, he should show genuine leadership and help forge a genuine, bi-partisan political and policy consensus to secure the future of young Malaysians. He should also back the political reforms that our country genuinely needs to move forward.