Are Malaysian youths turning away from democracy? -

By Erin Cook for

With less than a year to the elections, Malaysia’s millennials are instead flocking to a range of environmental and social causes, says Watan executive director Masjaliza Hamzah. These activities include teaching refugee and indigenous children, as well as self-publishing and student-led campaigns against a controversial loan program, apart from more traditional volunteering at nonprofits. These activities often do not require active engagement with policy, but on the few occasions where their campaigns intersect with formal politics, Malaysia’s youths remain willing to take a stand, says Hamzah. When a Najib government minister, without first holding consultations with stakeholders, in 2014 tried to stop programs where volunteers feed the homeless, young Malaysians jumped into the fray and blocked the move. “These are the small ways in which youths engage outside of the traditional voting model,” she says.