PETALING JAYA – Young people are not keen to even register to vote in the next general election, according to a survey carried out in 165 parliamentary constituencies.
Among the reasons for the lack of interest shown by the 604 respondents, aged between 21 and 30, in the survey was to a large degree due to the distrust they have for politicians.
Most of the respondents in the Perception of Economy, Leadership and Current Issues survey conducted by non-governmental organisation Watan and the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research (Merdeka), also said they were just “not interested in politics”.
Other results of the survey showed that 51 percent of the youths were concerned particularly about inflation, 34 percent about corruption, and 24 percent about job opportunities.
The survey was carried out from Aug 3 to Aug 8 in Peninsular Malaysia only.
Merdeka director Ibrahim Sofian said there “is a degree of voter disenchantment that being part of the political process does not necessarily lead to the changes we want to see.”
He said the poor voter registration was also due to the lack of engagement by political parties with voters.
“Our political culture does not encourage open criticism and the questioning of policies and issues,” he said at a briefing here on Tuesday night.
According to Ibrahim, the reason why young people showed a lack of interest in politics was because of trivial and seditious issues that marred local politics.
“Politics has dissolved into confusion marked by bickering and infighting over identity issues such as race and religion. I think that has made a lot of people disinterested,” he said, adding that politicians were not talking about youth-centric issues either.
On 1MDB, Ibrahim explained that the majority of the respondents felt that the issue had become an old one.
“1MDB is something that already happened two years ago. It’s already an old issue by now. Many issues have a shelf life of about three to four weeks.
“So, the concerns about 1MDB have been rolled into concerns about good governance and the rule of law, which is already evident in the survey.”
He noted that using the 1MDB issue as ammunition in political campaigns may not be successful.
“Maybe some parties or politicians would want to bring it up. But, I think it’s not going to win new support because most people are already aware of this issue,” he said.
Ibrahim said political parties which only aim to antagonise their opponents during campaigning might emerge losers in the upcoming polls.
He said issues to be addressed should be ones the voters care about – their livelihood.