Muhd Fadhil Abdul Rahman, CIVICA Research Associate & Senior Research Officer, Merdeka Center
It was October 15th, 2018. It was a Thursday. But this particular Thursday was captivating, as a 93-year-old man stood firm while articulating his points across in the Malaysian House of Parliament.
In his closing remarks, after more than an hour being the center of attention, this man conveyed a surprising yet timely message – intended towards the younger generation.
His main points: acquire all sorts of knowledge to modernise Malaysia; learn skills, strengthen integrity, grasp religious and moral values; avoid corruption; internalise truth, honesty and justice.
The man’s concise choice of words accurately pinpointed the desired direction of Malaysia’s youths, as a new journey is embarked on.
The man’s name is Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the 8th Prime Minister of Malaysia, while the occasion was a presentation on the Mid-Term Review of 11th Malaysia Plan.
Malaysian youths of today can be categorised as lucky – proper access to education, presence of technology allowing convenient lives, and abundant resources available all around. Of course, some of these may differ according in terms of socioeconomic factors and environmental make-up, yet generally speaking, most youths are presented with opportunities.
The emergence of visionary youths across Malaysia are exhilarating, appropriately responding to the Prime Minister’s call via innovative efforts. Either through significant design of computer programs, entrepreneurial wonders or creative marketing, we can admit that Malaysia does have its share of homegrown talents, capable of penetrating global markets.
Yet there are saddening statistics and developments with regards to our youths, requiring urgent and emergent endeavour to salvage the potential of an entire generation.
For instance, more than 5,000 babies were born to underage mothers last year, while 12,492 cases of underage pregnancy were reported in 2016 (according to Public Health Institute). Sadly, the same study conducted by Public Health Institute revealed another surprising disclosure: more than 31% of respondents have had sexual experience before the age of 14.
In addition, juveniles were involved in 1,254 drug-related and 48 triad-associated cases, plus 1,085 hard crimes 2015 to April 2017 according to data compiled by the Royal Malaysian Police.
These reports are terribly saddening and call for immediate actions. Beginning with effective community-based policies and stronger advocacy at all age levels, youths (and juveniles included) must strive to boost self-efficacy, nurturing positive values to drive one’s personality growth.
Exposure to high-level skills, exemplary communication-oriented classes and consistent monitoring by societal members will enhance the maturing process of our young starlets – with the government and its agencies playing consequential roles to ensure all activities adhere to rules and guidelines.
At this day and age, the youths should be allowed to explore and discover their passions, in tandem with their interests. By doing so, more ‘diamonds’ could be unearthed, subsequently given the room to flourish in this globalised world.
Let us groom and assist our successors with the
sincerest intention and goodwill, so they will be able to become the ‘change’
that we want them to be.
(This article was first published on October 20, 2018.)