This is an opinion piece by law students Dhanya Sivanantham, Kylene Woo and Michelle Liu from the United Kingdom & Eire Malaysian Law Students Union (KPUM). This article is strictly the writers’ personal opinions. KPUM believes in that every Malaysian is free to decide upon their own right to vote. This article does not reflect or represent the view of KPUM or its’ members.
First of all, we just want to say that bullying is NOT cool. We believe that freedom of expression extends even to those whom we disagree with. If you happen to disagree with a certain view, you should respond with respect. Attack the problem, not the person!
We urge all parties to halt all forms of attacks and harassment against Maryam and those supporting #UndiRosak. We urge everyone who is engaging in the discourse to refrain from impulsive and destructive personal attacks, but to debate on the points raisedhttps://t.co/xuXuJLS6Fu
— EMPOWER (@empowermalaysia) January 30, 2018
The recent #UndiRosak campaign have caused quite a stir. It calls for voters to spoil their votes because there is no point voting in a “lose-lose situation” as neither of the two major political blocs, Pakatan Harapan (PH) or Barisan Nasional (BN), are favorable to become the next government. Pakatan Harapan (PH) is not a better alternative to the incumbent ruling party because it has compromised its’ ideals by choosing Dr Mahathir as it’s PM candidate. Youths are then called to spoil their votes as a symbolic act of protest against the lack of choice and an expression of distrust towards the compromised system.
It’s true, distrust of the political system and disillusionment from politics among Malaysian youths is already at all-time high.
A survey conducted by Merdeka Centre and Watan in 2016 showed that 70% of the youths who polled do not care about politics. However, 57% out of the 604 respondents aged between 21 and 30 years old also felt that the country is heading in the wrong direction.
According to the Election Commission, there are about 3.8 million eligible persons who have yet to register themselves as voters as of March 2017. Two third of that number are people aged between 21 and 30 years old. This means that youths make up a large majority of that pool of unregistered voters.
Comparatively, the recent UK General Election saw the youth vote coming out “in strength and lashed out pretty aggressively”. Statistics show that there was a 66.4% turnout of voters between the ages of 18 to 34, the rise in youth voters led to a massive swing in favour of Labour votes.
While the results of the election did result in a hung parliament and subsequently caused the formation of a coalition government, it ultimately resulted in what is dubbed ‘the new politics of youth’, which puts real life and youth concerns at the forefront.
Although we understand the symbolism behind the act of spoiling your votes, we do not see it as the most effective way for our democracy. Youths should engage, not disengage.
Whatever their party, politicians increasingly seem to be trying to fit into the same mould and many young voters feel ignored in current politics. We must not forget that the fate of national politics is in the hand of the voters. As a nation, this allows us to hold our elected representatives accountable for their actions and lack thereof. However, this can only occur if we exercise our constitutional rights as citizens of a democratic country by registering to vote, and most importantly, voting.
The less likely the youths are to vote, the less likely politicians would speak to them. Now, youth engagement in politics may just be the game changer!
If youths want a future, they should participate in the process. This does not necessarily mean becoming a politician, engagement can occur through many forms. Elect a Member of Parliament (MP) or DUN that represents your interests. Attend discourse sessions held by politicians running in your constituency and ASK QUESTIONS. Ask them how they plan to solve issues that affect the youth of today, and most importantly, how they plan on ensuring that our concerns as the youth of the nation are not swept aside for the concerns of those unaffected by them.
Election is a number game for countries who adopt the first-past-the-post system. If youths do not come out to vote, then the election will be decided in favour of those who do. Let’s be real — the elected government’s policies and actions will affect those who voted for or against them, as well as those who chose not to vote.
A spoilt ballot paper is effectively just another non-vote.
Vote for the party or the individual that represents your ideals the best. If major parties do not do so, don’t forget that there are independent candidates that might. Be it economical, political, ethical, religious or moral, there are always ideals that people may disagree with. You may not find a candidate that echoes all of your ideals, but they may support most of them. Keep in mind that they have to appease the entire nation.
Find out how you could register as a voter and if you are residing overseas, apply for postal voting:
Do not forsake your democratic right in the name of protest. The campaign could very easily tank and leave you with an elected representative you are unhappy with; and a 5 year wait until the situation can be rectified. To conclude, vote wisely. Our actions and choices may seem insignificant but contribute greatly to the bigger picture.