Persatuan Pemangkin Daya Masyarakat (Rose) is encouraged and welcomes the recent suggestion by Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, the Minister of Youth, Sports and Entrepreneur Development, for age-appropriate civic and voter education to be introduced in upper secondary schools and that the state Ministry of Youth, Sports and Entrepreneur Development can supplement the role of the federal ministry in educating young voters.
Indeed, the responsibility to inculcate responsible or smart voters among the young falls on each of the stakeholders and cannot be just on Election Commission’s alone. Civil society organisations, political parties, educators and even parents must play our roles in building responsible citizenry.
With the implementation of Undi 18 [the lower minimum voting age] effective December 2021, more than 675,077 Sarawakians have now been added to the electoral roll. The total number of voters is 1,927,750 as at 31 December 202;, we have 28.5% of voters in the 18-29 age group – ie about 550,000 – who can vote in the coming general election.
The ideal scenario is that everyone in this age group goes out to vote as they are the ones whose lives and future will be most affected by policies and decisions made by the government of the day. Whether they will go out to choose their elected representative in Parliament depends on what we the above stakeholders do from now on. Please see the pie-chart above.
The increase in number of young voters will be meaningless if they do not know the value of their vote nor bother to participate as voters in the election. This will not augur well for the state of democracy in our beloved land.
Civic and voter education has been a core focus of our organisation’s goals and we run activity-based and interactive civic or voter education workshops such as the Bengkel Kesedaran Demokrasi Belia (Youth Democracy Awareness Workshop) in 2020, to increase awareness and knowledge of participants about the role and responsibilities, rights and duties of a citizen in a parliamentary democracy.
We take this opportunity to welcome enquiries from any educational institutions or schools or other organisations within Sarawak to contact us if they are interested in conducting training or collaborating with us in other ways. Our email address is [email protected] – Rose