Give young talent their rightful place in nation-building

It is time to look at developed countries and see how young leaders are reforming the system and transforming mindsets

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Photograph: Eric Thoo

Patriot readily supports civil society and human rights groups that have expressed concerns over the government’s both direct, confrontational and subtle harassments and threats on young Malaysians standing up for their rights and voicing their opinions over various issues on the political, economic, social and environmental paradigms that define nationhood.

Firstly, considering the numerous problems faced within and outside the government, among the leaders and political parties included, it is evident today that we have failed to safeguard the aspirations of our forefathers who contributed and sacrificed much for a better nation.

Secondly, our young citizens of today are our nation’s future asset. They are our future leaders who will beyond doubt helm this nation.

Let us not fail our young today and end up pawning the future of Malaysia.

The prevailing and widespread concerns of the young echo their shattered hopes as they witness the extent of deceit, corruption, mismanagement and questionable governance.

Rather than seeing them as threats, the government should view these developments positively and explore how the government can profit from the concerns and unhappiness registered by our young through their peaceful protests.

Addressing young citizens’ concerns rationally is a categorical duty of a determined progressive government and leadership.

Patriot wishes to bring to the table a reality within the military and police forces that affirms the role and importance of our young. We veterans will vouch for how young recruits have successfully demonstrated their responsibilities and remained accountable for their actions.

For example, young naval officers may command a multimillion ringgit warship with crew members who are much older to them. Likewise, we trust our young pilots to fly an aircraft with or without a crew as much as we qualify young infantry personnel to lead security force members much older than them into battle.

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Take the case of the Fortune 500 Companies today where many young billionaires are below the age of 30.

While we seem to allow young men and women to lead, be it in the security forces or in the business world, our government appears reluctant to accept young citizens to be part of the nation’s leadership thrust.

It is time to look at developed countries and see how young leaders are reforming the system, transforming mindsets and turning their countries into results-based nations.

Patriot strongly believes, in retrospect, that the government must wean itself out of its weak mindset and instead embrace the winds of change sweeping through the world. We should encourage our young to explore new grounds and diversify their understanding of good governance and the attributes required to lead a nation.

The Malay proverb “kalau hendak melentur buluh, biarlah dari rebungnya” (if you want to bend a bamboo, start from the shoot), is most apt for the situation the country is in today. Corruption has become the advancing ‘cancer’ that is destroying the nation. This calls for an urgent strategy to develop our young minds to battle against this cancer at an early stage. Otherwise, we risk fuelling yet another generation of corrupt leaders.

Imposing draconian laws and chastising and threatening the young are out of place in this ‘new’ order of democracy and governance by the rule of law. Coercively stripping people of their rights will entrench extremism. Instead, patriotism must be cultivated and nurtured by honouring the potential and the inventory of talent of the young.

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Patriot believes in our young citizens. We will continue to support the aspirations of these future leaders of a greater Malaysia.

Patriot calls upon all aspiring young Malaysians to stand up and be counted. Say what you see and contribute towards laying the foundations of good governance in our country.

Patriot is confident that while we place our trust in the young, they will reciprocate by not misusing this trust by creating disharmony and pandemonium, for as the saying goes “biar niat baik, cara mesti betul”.

It is time to think outside the box. The future of this nation is not in the palms of overstaying leaders. The young are our investment capital.

Retired Brigadier General Dato’ Mohd Arshad Raji is president of the National Patriots Association (Patriot)

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