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How to counter the green tsunami of young voters – Free Malaysia Today

Cast your mind back to when you were 18 years old. What were your pet interests? What were your major concerns? Did you know what you wanted to do? Did you know what was good for the country?
I can tell you straight away that, at 18, my classmates and I were interested in getting to know the boys in our class. After completing our fifth form at the Main Convent Ipoh, we enrolled at the co-educational St Michael’s Institution to further our education in the sixth form.
At 18, were you politically mature or did matters of the state bore you? Were you brimming with overconfidence or still awkward and shy? With raging hormones in your body, were you more interested in the opposite sex?
Naturally, your schooling, social interaction, your personal experience, and engagement with the community, and whether you were working or still in school, would hone your political acumen.
At GE15, PAS flourished at the polls at the expense of Pakatan Harapan and Umno. Political analysts were blindsided by the new, young voters in the “green tsunami”.
Can we entrust and empower 18-year-olds to decide Malaysia’s future?
In the green tsunami, voter numbers swelled by over 1.5 million young voters aged from 18 to 20 years old. Remember the Undi18 bill which was passed in 2019? Most new voters are said to be PAS followers.
Many Malaysians claim that, at 18, many of them are not well-versed in the politics of the day. It is a topic which, if discussed at home, is probably full of bias. Politics should be taught in schools with proper and responsible adult supervision. We need to equip our students with the mindset to engage in fruitful discussions which will affect their future.
Are our young, new voters politically astute? Or has the Undi18 initiative started by Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and PH backfired?
For Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, the defeat of his daughter Nurul Izzah in the contest for Permatang Pauh was a personal and bitter blow. The Anwar clan, be it Anwar, his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, or Nurul Izzah, had at various points successfully defended the constituency for forty years, ever since a young Anwar, on a BN ticket, won the seat in 1982.
Nurul Izzah lost by 5,272 votes to the 39-year-old local division and Penang PAS Youth leader, Fawwaz Mohamad Jan. Was the PKR election machinery too complacent and overconfident in Permatang Pauh? Was there any truth to the allegation that Nurul Izzah was out of touch with local residents? Media reports said the locals had complained about the lack of development.
On the other hand, preacher Fawwaz, who has a relatively small family of 11 children, is kept busy as the chief executive of Yayasan Darul Hadis Al Filfilaniyyah, which runs tahfiz schools and coordinates religious events.
Although relatively unknown, his TikTok videos have garnered over 17 million views altogether.
Many people are not aware that the media-savvy PAS uses social media to maximum advantage to spread its propaganda. This phenomenon is not new. They have been working on this innovation for several years.
For decades, both Umno and PAS would try to entice Malay voters with each claiming that their party was the protector of Islam and the defender of the Malays. In 2022, Umno did miserably at the polls.
What went wrong? Remember the four Rs? Race, religion, royalty and rasuah.
PAS and Umno politicians successfully used race and religion to divide Malaysians, but after numerous corruption scandals in the previous Umno administration under Najib Razak, the Malays were furious with the public image of a corruption-riddled Umno.
Disappointed and feeling betrayed, it was natural that the Malays gravitated towards PAS.
Bersatu didn’t quite fit the bill as many Bersatu politicians were originally from Umno.
The PAS performance showed it to be the dominant partner in Perikatan Nasional (PN) and this will threaten PN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin’s position.
Muhyiddin is not ashamed of using racial and religious rhetoric to sway his followers. He alleged that the Jews and Christians would colonise Malaysia, and when he was criticised, used the cop-out that his words had been taken out of context.
With allegations that he may soon be ousted, one wonders if Muhyiddin will attempt to hang on to his position by becoming more radical, more conservative than he already is.
If a multicultural Malaysia based on mutual respect between the people of different races and faiths is to continue, then education is key.
Another is for the Election Commission to address the re-delineation of electoral boundaries for a fairer seat allocation between rural and urban areas.
Anwar must succeed.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.
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