Youth is the pillar of the country, whether we realize it or not. The people will be the leaders who will shape the future of the country, and that has been proven for a long time if we look back at the political history of the country. If you pay attention, most of the leaders who are busy fighting for the independence of this country are those who are still very young. It’s the same with the current political scenario in Malaysia – Dr. Mahathir used to be a young man who was loud and brave.
Paired with Anwar Ibrahim, another young figure who was respected by many people since he was a student; Malaysia at that time was very popular. It could be said, a period that is seen as full of optimism. From history, we know that young age does not hinder one’s ability to become a community leader. Political leaders know this fact, and begin to open up space for young people to fight together on the political path.
Youth political space began to take shape, eventually becoming a full-fledged youth party
Long ago, political parties were founded to bring together those who wanted to fight in accordance with the flow of struggle brought by the people. For UMNO, people are more towards Malay Muslim nationalism. As for PAS, it is more into Islamic politics. As for JUSTICE, it is more of a progressive trend and that is how it is with other parties in Malaysia.
Most of the big and well-established parties expanded their network to all corners of the country, growing more branches and local branches. For example, UMNO exists in every state except Sarawak. There are also some parties that are more state-focused, such as those that thrive in Sabah and Sarawak. The state government itself can be said to be a combination of several political parties, especially with state political parties.
No matter what the ideological struggles of these parties are, most of these parties are indeed creating a new space for young people out there. Start by opening up membership to youth; each of them spread the wings of party membership in every existing branch and branch. So far, more than 20 youth wings from various parties have been established in Malaysia.
However, the existence of this youth wing was initially not felt because many people thought it was just a way for political parties to increase the number of party members. Yes, what the youth wing wants to raise… is still up to the leaders who are higher than the people. The youth wing is seen as lacking in autonomy and still needs to be ‘guided’ by the older ranks of leaders. Then, this invites various criticisms of the leadership – does the party prefer to waste its new leadership talent?
In an article written by Najwan Halimi in 2017, he noted his views on the dynamics of the youth wing of the time. PKR youths have repeatedly spoken about the party’s work fatigue, including AMK itself. Even in his view, the UMNO Youth Leader himself seemed to be trying to distance himself from the UMNO image and more often presented himself as an independent, relaxed and independent figure.
We must remember that the youth movement in 2016 was quite active and more prominent than the youth wing of political parties. In 2017, many youth movement activities such as the Malaysian Youth Congress (KAMM) initiative and independent youth groups were organized. Indirectly, the energy of independent young people is envied by the youth wing in political parties because it seems as if they are tied to the party leadership, which on average is no longer in youth groups…
However, this sluggish phenomenon is not experienced by all parties. At that time, the momentum of the youth wing of parties such as Parti Peribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and Amanah continued to be energetic. That’s normal for new parties – people have to prove to the community that they need to be taken seriously and hope to be a new light to attract more support to this new party.
These moments eventually became the starting point for the formation of a new youth party – an initial effort to provide more space for young people to engage in politics in a healthy and mature manner. This is in accordance with the perpetuation of Vote 18 and the emergence of mature political awareness among the public.
Students recruited as early as university, student union or party proxies?
Life at this university is a new era for young people who have just graduated from SPM/STPM. Many things that were not in school before, are on campus. In secondary schools, the emphasis on shared curricula is emphasized. But in today’s campus era, no one insists on joining a student union or not. To be sure, the Student Association can be said to be one of the most important elements in the life of a student.
One type of student association is a student association or student movement that focuses on the ideas and principles of intellectualism on a social issue that occurs around the community. Sometimes, student associations like these are said to have political ties to ‘political parties’ on campus. Political parties on campus are also said to be linked to political parties off campus. Whether it’s a political party or the student movement itself; both are always labeled as proxies of a party. Some of them are clearly party proxies such as Malaysian Justice Students, PAS Supporters Club, Malaysian UMNO Students and many more.
Students are recruited as new cadres of political parties, growing the seeds of the ideology of political struggle that a political party aspires to. In an article written 21 years ago, Ahmad Zaki noted the need for an independent student movement and free from interference from political parties outside the campus. Worse, some student figures consider this student movement as a stepping stone for the community to get a more special space in political parties.
The rise of young people and the tendency of cynicism towards politics were evident after 2016. The idea of parties was increasingly rejected and shunned by young people, so that more student movements were formed and took a non-partisan approach as a principle of struggle. Student media was also created as an alternative discourse space for students to celebrate diversity of opinion. One of the most popular student websites is Nadisiswa, which provides a space for students to express themselves, including students from Indonesia.
However, the campus political space cannot allow the interference of national or state politicians. Campus politics is for students and for the benefit of students only. If these boundaries are clearly delineated, then the influence of national politics can be muted at the university level. Campus political space needs to reflect the wishes of students, not political leaders out there.
Apparently, young people are not left behind in political parties. On campus, campus politics seems to be a ‘training’ for young people to hone their leadership talents. But what often happens is that the energy and talents of young people are wasted by the leaders of the national political parties themselves. Therefore, sufficient space must be given to the younger generation so that they can develop better and become young leaders of caliber and progress in the development of the country.