Much has been said about the importance of young and first-time voters in the upcoming general election as youth participation is expected to be at the highest ever and, potentially, the most decisive vote.
Undoubtedly, young Malaysians are tremendously important in elections but I would like to talk about why GE15 is tremendously important to young Malaysians.
Not since the Merdeka generation has Malaysia experienced such a transformational moment in our history. The decision we make now will set our nation on a course that will determine our collective destiny – a destiny that the younger generation and their children will inhabit.
The world is undergoing a period of dramatic change.
There are tectonic shifts in the global economic order taking place, the likes of which we have not seen since the end of World War II, and Malaysia – indeed the Asean region as a whole – will either prosper enormously as an independent leader in Southeast Asia, or become a pawn in the power game of global economic actors who see us as a strategic point in the East-West competition for markets, resources and influence.
No political coalition in Malaysia fully grasps what is at stake more than Perikatan Nasional (PN). PN’s manifesto, unveiled last week, sets the groundwork upon which Malaysia can build a truly independent future and become a strong, economically sovereign leader in Asia.
Muhyiddin Yassin, the chairman, and PN members have identified the most important key focus areas that will enable Malaysia to successfully face the challenges that will define the reality of the younger generation for years to come.
Issues like food security, for example, will only increase in urgency and importance over the coming decades. The coalition recognises that a country that cannot feed itself is perpetually vulnerable and subject, which is why it has prioritised the establishment of six mega hubs for food production and distribution at strategic locations throughout Malaysia to ensure the sovereignty of our food supply.
PN also understands that it is not enough for Malaysia to position itself as a link in the supply and value chains of Western multinational companies; it must develop its own private sector powerhouses.
The PN manifesto include plans for how micro, small, and medium-sized businesses can not only survive but thrive, growing into Malaysian-owned multinational corporations that will help uplift the entire region economically.
Implicit in the PN platform is a vision of Malaysia as a force to strengthen regional cooperation, trade and solidarity which anticipates and can fortify us against the inevitable pressures that will be brought to bear on Southeast Asia as Western nations ramp up what many are calling a new Cold War to contain China.
The independence of every individual nation in this region will be empowered by regional economic cohesion, and PN is providing the necessary leadership to ensure that these bonds will flourish.
Young voters are electing their future in the election. While current concerns such as inflation, cost of living and the value of the ringgit are uppermost in the minds of older voters who want instant relief, and may incline towards short-term remedies, the youth must think long-term.
PN is the only party that addresses these immediate concerns with solutions that will not only resolve them in the near term but which also build permanent structural resistance against these problems emerging in the future.
The long-hailed Western “pivot to Asia” is underway, and that puts Malaysia squarely in the crosshairs of potentially predatory investors, lenders and multinationals if we are not proactive in developing our economic independence.
In this regard, one of the greatest threats to our economic and political sovereignty is corruption.
When leaders prioritise their own personal enrichment over the best interests of the nation, they can sell their people into slavery.
Unchecked greed in the public sector almost inevitably leads to private sector domination over policy and the subjugation of the economy to the interests of powerful players. Muhyiddin is one leader who has always taken a stand against corruption, sometimes even to the detriment of his own career.
He always places loyalty to the people above party and politics. Integrity is the only vaccine that can inoculate government from the virus of corruption.
GE15 is not just going to decide who will govern Malaysia for a single term – it is determining what Malaysia will be for young voters and their children for their lifetime.
The youth are not just electing a government on Nov 19 – they are laying the cornerstone for the kind of country they want to live in. And PN’s platform provides the strongest foundation for a vibrant and prosperous future.
Azril Mohd Amin is CEO of Institut Masa Depan Malaysia.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.