Spotlight: Youth apathetic and lazy when it comes to voting
By : Dharshini Balan, NST 30/11/07
ONE-THIRD of Malaysians aged 20 to 35 have not registered as voters according to a recent opinion poll. And around half of the young voters feel there is little they can do to hold the government accountable between elections.
Thirty-six per cent of the 1,508 respondents in the National Youth Survey 2007 had not registered, saying they have no time to vote, or they are not interested or too lazy.
Others said voting is not important, and some said they do not know where to vote.
A few said their votes would not make any difference to the outcome of the upcoming election.
The telephone survey was conducted by the Merdeka Center with the support of the Asia Foundation. The respondents were randomly selected from all over the country.
Merdeka Center director Ibrahim Suffian said these figures show a lack of awareness among the youth of the importance of exercising their right to vote, and a strong tendency to leave any problems to the government to solve.
Some 39 per cent of those not registered as voters cited lack of time, and 17 per cent said they were uninterested or lazy. Seven per cent didn’t know where to vote.
“The youth are disconnected from what is happening, even though they are concerned by the impact of the economy or social problems,” said Ibrahim, adding that this lackadaisical attitude was becoming a culture.
“Some expressed that their freedom of speech is stifled due to many restrictions set by certain organisations,” he said.
While the majority of young voters feel that voting is important, 52 per cent thought there is little they could do to hold the government accountable between elections.
Asked how much of a difference their votes made in influencing the government, 45 per cent of the respondents who are registered voters felt it made a lot of difference. Thirty-six per cent thought it made some difference, while 11 per cent said little difference.
Some five per cent of the respondents thought it did not make any difference at all.
The remaining four per cent either did not know or had no response.
“There is an apparent gap between youth and the government as the youth do not have keen interest in politics,” said Ibrahim.
Despite many programmes organised by the government to encourage youth to be more wholesome individuals, there was a lack of chemistry between the youth and the government, creating a void that must be addressed soon, he said. Ibrahim commented that these figures were likely to change after recent events like the Bersih and Hindraf rallies.
Reading throughout this report, there is a big issue that needs to be addressed here. It is really prominent to us that youths today do not think seriously of the future of the country.
Why is this happening? well, basically we have to ask ourselves as we, undergrads are those that are included in the range of young voters. Personally, the cause of all of these are due to the waqi’ or the youths’ surroundings. They prone to discuss light topics such as gossips, sports and anything that is not so heavy. How many of us that really care about what’s happening around us? How many of us care about corruption? How many of us follow parliamentary sessions? That are some of the issues that we, the people of this country should know…but, youths today only want to enjoy and care about their lives…
The surroundings did not help also… mass media shows a lot of hedonism-based programs. youths get stucked with reality programs such as American idols, Akedemi Fantasia, Bintang Kecil etc. They are being educated to be artists at such a tender age of 9! Even parents are very proud when one of their children get selected for one of the programs…
Voting is one process of expressing your views. One vote can change the outcome of election. More over, it is undeniable to us that our country comprised more of youths than the elderly. Think it like this… without one vote, a candidate won the election, let’s say 2345 to 2344. Incidently, this candidate had a bad reputation, very corrupted, and not very thoughtful of the people he represented. While the lost candidate is better, and deserved to win, who by all means, accountable for his lost? If one vote count, then maybe you can prevent this from happening.
Voting is not an activity that was done leisurely! It is a responsibility to choose the right person!