Rain or floods will not stop our young voters

Rain or floods will not stop our young voters
By Zan Azlee

In recent weeks, we have been bombarded by news and rumours about the possibility of a general election happening very soon. It’s keeping everybody at the edge of their seats.

Even the looming monsoon season when floods hit Malaysia doesn’t seem to be stopping these news and rumours. If the general election happens during the monsoon season, there is a risk that it might affect voter turnout.

So here’s the deal. How long do you think the folks who are a little bit older, say around 60 years old and above, will have on this earth and living in Malaysia?

If we look at the average lifespan of a Malaysian, it would roughly be around 15 years. Now compare that to those who are 18 years old. They would have more than 50 years to live and conduct life.

So who has more at stake when it comes to how Malaysia progresses in the future? Logically thinking, it would be the youth. So, it is apt that Malaysia has reduced the voting age to 18 earlier this year.

I teach undergraduates on a regular basis and it is exciting to see them talking about being able to vote for the first time. I see them swarm the Election Commission website to check where their constituency is.

I get so excited that I start telling them stories of when I voted for the first time and how exhilarating it is when you get to see the candidate you voted for win.

You get filled with hope and life suddenly seems more worth living. I also remind them that it is their own free choice to vote for whoever they think is fit to administer the country according to how they want it to be.

What are the issues they are concerned about? They need to start thinking about that.

It can be as basic as how they don’t want their favourite Marvel superhero movies to be censored or banned, to as complex as the availability of jobs when they graduate and the starting salaries of the respective industries they hope to be in and even the price and quality of their tertiary education.

If those are their concerns, then that is what they should vote for. Nobody should invalidate what they want. Remember, they have the most at stake as compared to any boomer or gen-Xer. We have no right to tell them what they should vote for.

We can provide them with as much responsible information as possible, but I’m sure they have their resources too, and they make up their own minds.

Elders should let go

It is time for a lot of us to let go and accept the fact that we are living in the present and the present might not be very conducive for the future.

Let those who still have the ability to see far ahead make the decisions. They will be the ones constructing how the country will be for our children and their children. All we need to do is provide them with support.

This is not being ageist. It is practical and logical. All this while, we’ve been fed advice and instructions from the elders. They use their experience to say they know what is best. But what has that gotten us?

They should instead use their experience to guide the youth and not dictate to them. Unless the elders just can’t let go and want to stay in power for as long as they can. But that would be selfish.

So, this is a call to the youth to come out in full force at the general election. Don’t let rain or floods stop you from coming out and making sure you get the country you deserve.

With the implementation of Undi18, we have seen an additional 1.2 million voters between 18 and 21 years old, while there will be an additional 4.6 million new voters who would be above 21 years old. So you do have a voice. Make sure you all use it.

[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

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