Youth And Political Awareness – By Anas Zubedy

I was recently invited to speak at Perdana Leadership Foundation in a forum titled, “Citizenship in the Age of the Internet: Has the Internet increased political awareness among Malaysian youth?”

The other panelist were YB Dato' Saifuddin Abdullah, Deputy Minister of Education; Tricia Yeo, a researcher and former assistant to the Selangor MB Khalid Ibrahim; Cheah Kar Fei, a student leader, former AIESEC President of Malaysia. The session was moderated by Lim Teck Hoe.

I see being a panelist in this talk as a great chance to test a hypothesis I have regarding youth and political awareness. In a previous session I delivered early this year among 200 student leaders from all over the country, I polled the audience and most of them had no idea who Khairy Jamaludin is, let alone PR’s Nik Nazmi. From this, I had a hunch that the youth, despite the ‘noise’ they seem to be making about politics, are not really that aware.

In preparation for this talk, I experimented with the hunch. A telephone / face-on-face survey of 10 questions (5 behavioral / 5 knowledge-based, Question 7 and 9 being tricky on purpose) was conducted between 15 and 16 October 2012. This is to minimize any opportunity to look up the answers and to capture the most candid ones. 120 respondents between the ages of 18 to 25 were surveyed and the answers supported my initial thought.

Here are the findings

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finding 1
In conclusion

The panellists were given a task to answer 4 questions with regards to the title. Based on the survey results, I provide conclusions as the following:

1.  Based on all of the above consideration, do I believe that the age of Internet has increased political awareness among Malaysian youth?

My conclusion : Not particularly.

2.  Do I think the Internet is being properly utilised to understand political and national issues?

My conclusion : Not particularly.

3.  Why is that?

My conclusion : Simple, there are just too many distractions out there and politicians are not seen as cool. If the youth likes football, they’d make an effort to watch the matches. If they fancy a particular celebrity, they’d be stalking the celebrity on twitter and be reading up about him or her in all available media. Our politicians lack the cool factor and as a consequence, the youth just don’t have that drive to fully use the Internet to catch up on current affairs, politics in particular.

4.  Ultimately, do I think the ‘Internet population’ will significantly affect the outcome of the thirteenth general election?

My conclusion: Not particularly. The parties are better off concentrating on their ground-level machinery, making sure their workers go all out to approach the voters, and also to curb internal sabotage to ensure UNITY IN PURPOSE.

I have another hunch... If we ask the same questions to older Malaysians, the results would not be too far off too. What do you think?

Anas Zubedy

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Anas Zubedy, born in Penang, speaks English, Malay, Hokkien & some Tamil. He is the Managing Director and founder of Zubedy (M) Sdn Bhd. He graduated from University Malaya and was in marketing for a multinational before setting up Zubedy in 94.

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