The Pakatan Harapan Youth wings should brainstorm to encourage greater youth participation and leadership in effecting the first political change in national politics with the election of a Pakatan Harapan federal government in Putrajaya in the 14GE

A recent Merdeka Centre National (Youth) Opinion Survey has found that despite being highly dissatisfied with the BN government, the youth in the country are also dispirited with the political system as a whole.

Merdeka Center asked youths how satisfied or dissatisfied they were with the performance of the BN federal government, to which two-thirds – 67 percent – answered that they were dissatisfied.

Only 24 percent said they were satisfied with the government’s performance.

High dissatisfaction rates were registered by respondents across race, urban and rural divides as well as between those registered to vote and those not registered.

The survey, which looked at perceptions of the youth towards the economy, leadership and current issues, also asked respondents about their attitudes towards politics and found that an overwhelming majority (70 percent) were not interested in politics while a similar number of them (71 percent) felt they did not have any influence on the government of the day.

Another key finding from the poll was some 40 percent of respondents were not registered as voters despite being eligible, saying they did not have time to register or they felt that voting did not make a difference.

The Pakatan Harapan youth wings from DAP, PKR, AMANAH and Pribumi Bersatu should brainstorm to encourage greater youth participation and leadership in effecting the first political change in national politics with the election of a Pakatan Harapan Federal Government in Putrajaya in the 14th General Election to replace the UMNO/BN coalition.

I remember that when I was first involved in politics at the age of 24 at the end of 1965, the DAP was a political party for the youths.

In the first batch of 13 DAP Members of Parliament in the 1969 General Elections, three MPs or 23 per cent were below 30 years old, eight MPs or 62% below 40 years old and two MPs or 15 per cent below 50 years old.

This was why DAP did not form a youth wing until some five years after DAP’s formation, for the founding DAP leadership was a very youthful one.

Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Merdeka Cabinet in 1957 was a fairly youthful one as well when compared to today’s Cabinet. The average age of Tunku’s Merdeka Cabinet was 43.3 years – with Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman at 54 years and Finance Minister H.S.Lee at 57 the two oldest members while the youngest were Education Minister Khir Johari 34 and Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Razak Hussein at 35.

The present average age of the Malaysian Cabinet is 60 years with over half the Cabinet more than 60 years old. Najib is now 64 years old and became Prime Minister when he was 56.

Over 90 per cent of Malaysia’s 32 million people are born after Merdeka on August 31, 1957, with over half the population below 25 years of age.

Although we have a most extraordinary situation of having a 92-year-old nonagenarian in the person of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, 92, as the Chairman of Pakatan Harapan, it is time for more youths to take over the leadership levels in all spheres of Malaysia’s national life.

We have just celebrated the 60th anniversary of our attainment of Merdeka on August 31, 1957 when I was in Form Three in Batu Pahat High School.

I remember that the students in the school were assembled at the school padang, where the Merdeka Proclamation was read out.

However, we have failed in our Merdeka Dream and Vision to be a world-class nation as a parliamentary democracy; a successful and developed economy; a centre of educational excellence and a united, harmonious and progressive nation despite the diverse races, religions, cultures, languages in the country.

Malaysia has become a joke of a parliamentary democracy, where Members of Parliament are virtually prohibited from posing questions or debating the biggest financial scandal in the nation’s history – the 1MDB scandal.

Economically, we have lost out to other countries which had lagged behind us when we achieved Merdeka 60 years ago, in particular South Korea and Taiwan; in danger of being overtaken by Vietnam and Thailand, while other countries are swiftly closing the economic gap with us like Indonesia.

Educationally, whether at university, or secondary and primary education, we have lost our international eminence, while in recent years, the voices of extremism, intolerance and bigotry have caused the worst racial and religious polarization in the nation’s history.

What is worse, we have overnight been transformed into a global kleptocracy because of the international multi-billion dollar 1MDB money-laundering scandal, with the Prime Minister only last week visiting the White House and meeting with President Trump, although it was the US Department of Justice (DOJ) which branded Najib as a “kleptocrat” and “MO1” in the largest US DOJ kleptocratic litigation to forfeit US$1.7 billion of 1MDB-linked assets in US, UK and Switzerland.

Instead of clearing and cleansing his reputation to prove that he is not a “kleptocrat” and that Malaysia is not a “global kleptocracy”, Najib went as a supplicant to the White House with three “value propositions” to strengthen the American economy to make Trump’s America great again!

Only political change in the forthcoming 14th General Election, with a change of the occupants of Putrajaya with a new Federal Government, can halt Malaysia’s decline and save the country from the trajectory of a failed and a rogue state.

We must have a youthful Cabinet which must more attuned with the aspirations and problems of Malaysian youths as compared to today’s Cabinet.

The youths of Malaysia, regardless of race, religion, region or even politics, must be the vanguard of this imminent political change in Malaysia.

This is a tall order and a great challenge to the youth wings of Pakatan Harapan – to energise and inspire the youths of Malaysia to provide leadership for this great political change in the country!

(Speech at the DAP kopitiam dialogue in Stulang, Johor Baru on Wednesday, 20th September 2017 at 6 pm)

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