Youths must dare to have big dreams to achieve greatness for the country and to right the wrongs and injustices in society

The Pakatan Harapan Government achieved a great feat in the recent meeting of Parliament when it successful amended the Malaysian Constitution to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 years, and allowed the introduction of compulsory registration of voters.

There are those who think the Pakatan Harapan Government was committing political suicide and paving the way for its defeat in the next 15th General Election sometime in 2023, as youths tend to be anti-establishment and anti-government.

This is why in the past six decades, the previous government had not lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 years as is the practice in most countries of the world.

In fact, I had raised this proposal in Parliament as far back as in 1971 but we have to wait for 48 years before the Constitution is amended.

This is a case where the Pakatan Harapan government in Putrajaya is prepared to do what is right and good for the country, although there are people who say this may not be right and good for Pakatan Harapan.

But this should be taken as a challenge by Pakatan Harapan, for I do not think youths are so much anti-establishment and anti-government as they are more idealistic and visionary as they have not yet come into contact with the ups and downs of real life.

My advice for the youths of Malaysia – dare to have big dreams for the country and to right the wrongs and injustices in society.

Malaysia today is confronted with two choices – either go forward to build on the historic decision of May 9, 2018 to build a New Malaysia of unity, freedom, justice excellence and integrity or to go back to the trajectory of a failed, rogue and kleptocratic state as is advocated by the proponents of the new doctrine of klepto-theocracy.

Malaysians politics will be much more healthier and sublime if the government and opposition political parties compete on who have the better policies to make Malaysia respected and admired by the world for being a top world-class nation in every field of human endeavour instead of trying to incite distrust, suspicion and hatred among the diverse races and religions in the country, which can only result in division, disunity, stagnation and mediocrity of the country.

For instance, Pakatan Harapan wants to transform Malaysia from a global kleptocracy into a leading nation of integrity in the world.

If we are to achieve this goal, we should be able to be included in the top bracket of 30 nations in the annual Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) instead of oscillating between the ranking of No. 50 to 62 under the previous Prime Minister.

This was the goal of the five-year National Integrity Plan 2003-2008, but it proved to one of the greatest flops of Malaysian governance as the country’s TI CPI ranking plunged from No. 37 in 2003 to No. 62 in 2017!

Can we achieve our goal to transform Malaysia from a global kleptocracy to a world leading nation in integrity, as to placed in the top bracket of the 30 nations of integrity in the TI CPI?

Definitely not by the next 15th General Election in 2023 although we must be able to see significant improvement in the annual TI CPI in both the ranking and score every year henceforth.

We may need 10 years to be included in the top world bracket of 30 nations in integrity, but do we have opposition parties who have better policies to transform Malaysia from a global kleptocracy into a nation of integrity?

The answer is not only in the negative, if Pakatan Harapan government is defeated in the 15th General Election, then it is likely that all the kleptocrats who are now on trial for corruption, abuses of power and money-laundering would be able to escape criminal penalties and the country revert back to the path of kleptocracy.

Even now, there is no remorse or contrition of the old political parties responsible for making Malaysia into a global kleptocracy, as their leaders even deny the existence of 1MDB scandal.

I will give another example.

The OECD Economic Survey on Malaysia July 2019 made four key recommendations for educational reform in Malaysia, viz:

· Lower the school starting age to at least 5 and make secondary schooling compulsory.
· Provide incentives and implement rotation schemes to attract more qualified and experienced teachers to disadvantaged schools.
· Continue efforts to reduce teacher administrative workload so that teachers can spend more time preparing lessons or participating in mentoring or professional development activities.
· Adopt a more student-centred teaching approach and put more emphasis on developing communicational skills.

Malaysian students have performed poorly over the years in international assessments whether in TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) or PISA (Programme for International Students Assessment), occupying the lower one-third of world nations in educational standards.

Can we improve to be above global average and be in top one-third of countries in educational standards?

Again, I do not think this goal could be achieved in by the 15th General Election 2023, but it must be our goal to achieve by the 17th General Election in 2033 if not by the 16th General Election in 2028?

Dare we set our sight for such world achievements for the future of Malaysia and be prepared for the hard work and sacrifices with such goals?

These are questions which the youths of today should be asking.

(Speech by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang to Malaysian students in Chennai at Raintree Hotel, Chennai on Thursday 1st August 2019 at 8 pm)

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