I WELCOME the suggestions made by Lim Kit Siang, MP for Iskandar Puteri, to provide more opportunities for young Malaysians to lead and resolve national problems. Keeping this in view, I strongly agree that this should be an epoch for the millennials. The key question: Is our country doing enough to support our aspiring young fellows to become future leaders in Malaysia? The answer is not so straightforward. Although the labour force participation among young people has increased year-on-year in Malaysia, I can say that there is a relative absence of youths holding top or senior positions, whether in the private or government sectors. The default is to always follow bureaucratic conventions – where the long-serving and old gets the first dibs. For that reason, we have seen young Malaysian talents move abroad, where their talents and contributions are appreciated.Age discrimination is another contributing factor that limits the development of young leaders. The country is often extolling the virtues of “youth empowerment”, but how have we empowered our youths? Young people are being treated less favourably because of their age. And we have viewed this enough in the political scene. An older parliamentarian calls young lawmaker “budak” for no good reason. Not too long ago, young Veveonah was called a liar.Moving forward, the practical approach to executing the suggestion made by Lim Kit Kiang is first, by recognising and appreciating our young talents. We should give them a platform to direct their skills – for instance, quota reservation for young Malaysians to hold top positions in the government or private sectors. Political parties must anchor a plan to push its young members to run for office. In this era, I am of the opinion that young people are capable of taking charge. We saw the return of Malaysia’s dull political landscape in the past 11 months. The crux of the political catastrophe lies in the power struggle among the older generation of politicians in Malaysia. I know young Malaysians are disappointed but I want to encourage them to not give up. Success does not happen overnight. It requires effort, practice and time. Having said this, we need to train them young. Leadership skills must be formalised and coached in the educational sectors to outfit the young for the future. This is to boost confidence, master problem-solving skills and transform creative ideas into solid action outcomes. In fact, the vision of having young leaders is consistent with the national education philosophy. But, is the national educational roadmap consistent with the philosophy? Make the young voice heard! The chant must be incorporated with tact and strategy. Listening to their perspectives and making them a priority in decision-making is definitely a progressive step to achieving the ambitious goal. The relevant sectors – private or government – must embrace and honour the principle of youth voice. In particular, the government can empower the Malaysian Youth Council and other youth councils by organising and arranging regular meetings with youth members to comprehend their views and turn them into action plans. Young people must make a change and contribute to our country, take the lead, and continue to fight and never surrender. One day, I hope to see more promising young leaders in Malaysia. – December 20, 2020.* Aliya Ashiqin reads The Malaysian Insight. * This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.
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