By Lee Kian Kong
Malaysian millennials want higher incomes and better job opportunities, but are not interested in politics or find politics too complicated.
That’s what a study by Watan and Merdeka Center on 604 Malaysians aged between 21-30 years old found. Their top issues of concerns are: Unfavourable economic conditions, high living costs, GST, a weak Ringgit and lack of job opportunities.
Nearly half (49 percent) think the country is heading in the wrong direction based on how the nation’s economy is affecting their personal financial condition.
Yet, a significant majority say they are not interested in politics (70 percent), find politics too complicated for them to understand (70 percent) and feel helpless against the country’s political system (69-71 percent).
Many have yet to register as voters as well.
You would expect more interest and action in politics from those who want better economic conditions for the country. As the chart above shows, they’re mostly concerned about inflation/high cost of living, job opportunities, and housing – these are the very decisions made by political parties.
It was the death of China’s Mao Zedong and his centrally controlled economy and collective ownership of wealth, that led to his successor Deng Xiaoping introducing market-based economic reforms. It is now an industrial powerhouse with the biggest middle class in the world.
Politics could be the cause of economic decline as well. Cambodia was making modest strides before the Khmer Rouge took over with their fanatical ideal of a classless communist state based on a rural agrarian economy. Citizens had to grow and harvest rice all 12 months of the year, while intellectuals and professionals were killed in a devastating genocide.
These are only two of the more dramatic examples of how politics have shaped nations’ economic policies. Closer to home, it was the May 13 massacre that led to the country’s accelerated launch of the National Economic Policy, a race-based affirmative action, which, among others, gives preferential treatment to Malay-Bumiputera businesses.