Assets of the Nation: Youths
Youths make the world go ‘round
“Youngsters should be seen, and not heard.” This is the type of mentality that NEEDS to go away.
From using slurs learned from the Internet at 13 and dismissing ongoing issues, to growing up to be more mature, educated and socially aware, or as they like to say: Woke, our youths will be the ones responsible for running the country in a few years’ time.
Say hello to a brand new, more insightful nation!
Youths are now more conscious of what is happening culturally, politically and even economically both within and outside of the country and are attempting to make changes to the nation for their own futures; a whole different Malaysia that is more progressive without the meddling of the older generations.
Globally, there are more names than one in the list of youth activists. But Malala Youfsazai has made a name for herself in fighting for educational rights for girls and young women.
Image via New York Post
Born in Pakistan, where girls often face infanticide, limited access to education and other rights due to the patriarchal society in the country, Malala’s father was determined to present Malala with every opportunity a boy would have, especially education. But, when the Taliban took control of the town Malala grew up in, many things were banned; owning a television, playing music and even attending schools for young girls.
But Malala was (and still is) a bold youth. She defied the Taliban by speaking out publicly on behalf of girls and their rights to receive an education. This made her a target and Malala was shot at the side of the head only to wake up 10 days later in a hospital bed in Birmingham, England. But, the incident never stopped her from fighting for young women’s education, globally.
Malala then established the Malala Fund, a charity dedicated to giving every girl an opportunity to achieve a future she chooses. In turn, she received The Nobel Peace Prize 2014 at the age of 17, and became the youngest Nobel laureate and the second Pakistani to receive a Nobel prize after 1979 Physics laureate Abdus Salam.
Apart from fighting for education, youths are also fighting for the environment with 17-year-old Greta Thunberg at the frontlines.
Image via TeleTrader
In February 2020, students of Dublin held a climate change strike in the city centre. The students-led protest was to urge Ireland to take action on climate change before it is too late. The Dublin protest, amongst many other protests inside and out the country have been inspired by Greta.
Other countries with passionate youths holding strikes include Manila, Copenhagen and even Sydney, especially after the devastating wildfires crisis that caused air pollution from intense smoke (even to New Zealand and Chile) and an economic loss estimated at $2 billion dollars or maybe more.
Climate strike in Lisbon, Portugal. Image via The Guardian
Sydney, Australia. Image via The Guardian
Next in the lineup of inspirational youths is Kwiri Yang, the Founder and CEO of Second Time Founders, LifeGyde and few other companies that are committed to building communities focused on conscious leadership, education empowerment, the future of work, and supporting the next generation leaders.
Image via World Economic Forum/Valeriano Di Domenico
Recognized as a 40 Under 40 Emerging Civic Leader, Kwiri was also appointed as the youngest Board Director of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and represented the voice of the next generation at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, Women Leaders Forum, and Education World Forum.
A third of all food available for human consumption is wasted, and Abi Ramanan is wasting no time to find the solution to this massive global issue.
Image via Unilever
Abi is the co-founder and CEO of ImpactVision, a software platform that uses hyperspectral imaging technology to take a picture of food and analyze its nutritional value and freshness.The game-changing system aims to reduce waste while also improving food safety and consistency.
With awareness, comes demands
When people hear the word “millennials”, images of young people with crazy hair colours, piercings and faces glued to laptop and smartphone screens pop up in their heads; well, they’re not entirely wrong. Youths have a diverse style and are benefiting from the existence of high-speed Internet and developed technology. But youths nowadays are more than just their fashion trends and social media addiction.
As youths grow more conscious and sensitive to what is happening around the globe, more demands for changes are being voiced out.
1. Careers for a better tomorrow
Image via Mimi Thian / Unsplash
More young talent and skills are entering the job market and they not only want a fair paycheck, but also a job that will promise a better tomorrow. More millennials are seeking jobs that are promoting good values as the more aware youths nowadays are, the more they want to make a difference.
So, a company that promises a better future economically and environmentally are sure to attract more fresh minds. This also includes a company that promotes a work culture that cares for the well-being of the employees; such as allowing working from home on bad days or having more flexible work hours so employees can focus on their personal lives too. An attractive paycheck is just a bonus.
2. Think education system, but better
Image via New Straits Times
Although it is necessary for students of Malaysia to learn about the motherland through History in school, are all the information taught relevant to the current era? It might be, but what is more relevant now is exposing young students to the political issues within the country and even globally as a means to create culturally, politically and economically aware youngsters.
Malaysia school’s education system is lagging far behind developed countries. Honestly, having students sit for exams every few months is not the most useful effort to create “quality citizens”. Sure, it may help them enrol in good universities and maybe get a great career, but how is it preparing youths as future leaders of the nation? Malaysia’s education system needs a makeover and it needs it now if we want to produce more critical thinkers and reliable leaders.
These youths will be the one taking over the seats in the Cabinet and Parliament and will be the one to shape Malaysia before you know it, thus being conscious about what is going on in the world will prepare them on how to change the nation for the better; for their own futures.
3. Pillars of health and well-being
Image via EduReviews
Although it is true our healthcare is the best in terms of accessibility, affordability and sustainability. How does the system care for illnesses within the mind? Hence, what youths want is the elimination of stigma around mental health and more awareness that mental disorders are just as valid as other illnesses.
The younger generations also want a high-quality living environment to support their physical, emotional and mental well-being.
4. Equality for all
Image via Dr. Home Search
Living in a country of diversity, it is quite ironic how not all Malaysian citizens are treated equally. For instance, Bumiputera citizens are offered more privileges like receiving a 5% off when buying property and having the opportunity to enrol into a local university with less fees and mediocre examination results.
Bumiputera means ‘native’ so why are Malaysian-born Indians and Chinese not included in this category? Are they not native citizens? Thus, this is where the youths want to step in to change the inequality in the judicial system.
5. Accountable governance
Image via Scentales
As future leaders, youths are more directly affected by the decisions made by the current governance.
Malaysian youths want a governance of transparency and zero-corruption. As youths will be the one leading Malaysia in the soonest future, they want a government that is fair and citizen-driven. Having a bad country leader now just means more mess for the future generation to clean up after.
YOU-ths can make a difference
In time, youths will inevitably become the pillars of the betterment of Malaysia. As of present, we can already see youths advocating for a better Malaysia. For instance, non-governmental environmental organisation, EcoKnights (run by the youths, of course) have been advocating for a greener Malaysia since 2005. Other youth organisations based in Malaysia are Street Feeders, Malaysia Youth and Students Democratic Movement and AIESEC and they are all making an effort to empower youths in Malaysia and give them a voice and vision through their platforms. Needless to say, there are more ways than one on how youths can implement a better Malaysia.
1. Stand together, use your voices
“United we stand, divided we fall” - This phrase applies to the power of the youth as a community. When youths come together and use their voices, there are bound to be changes.
Quite recently, Minister of Communications and Media, Saifuddin Abdullah has called that all forms of filming will require a license from FINAS, even for social media. With the license rate at RM50,000, Saifuddin had faced ultimate backlash from the public; especially by the youths who are using social media as a means to gain income.
In the midst of this, Syed Saddiq had stepped forward as the voice of content creators and urged the parliament to reconsider this decision. The young minister had stated that implementing the need for an expensive license on content creators “kills the creativity of the youth”.
Including the numerous backlash posted on social media and videos posted just to mock the attempted implementation of the license to content creators and social media users, Saifuddin Abdullah has apologised and claimed that the license had nothing to do with social media, and was only viable for film producers.
2. Thinking local
Although it is good to be aware of global issues, youths can start by focusing on the local issues within the country or relate global problems to issues in Malaysia, such as the Black Lives Movement in America and how it is relevant to Malaysians.
In March of this year, a demonstration on women’s rights was run by the youths and was joined by society of different backgrounds and ages. The Women’s March was held on 8 March, in commemoration of International Women’s Day. The march took over the streets of Kuala Lumpur with young women (and men) using their voices as weapons to fight against the injustice against women in Malaysia, including but not limited to issues of child marriage, rapists not being held accountable and cases of domestic abuse faced in a household.
A placard seen at Women’s March 2020. Image via Buro 24/7
3. Going online
In a digital era, young people have unprecedented access to tools that can effect change around the globe. From shared links of petitions on social media to digital fundraising for the benefit of others, youths are using their platforms for the greater good.
FashionValet co-founder and Duck Group founder, Datin Vivy Yusof received backlash after replying to a comment from businesswoman, Aleeya Zailan regarding the B40 group.
Image via hype
Vivy’s agreement to the comment has enraged Malaysians, especially students of local university, UITM as Vivy is on the university’s Board of Directors. Students have made petitions for Vivy to resign from her position within the university as the institute carries students from B40 and M40 classes and her words have also tarnished the university’s good name.
The petition had received over 10,000 responses at the time of writing.
“The secret message communicated to most young people today by the society around them is that they are not needed, that the society will run itself quite nicely until they — at some distant point in the future — will take over the reigns. Yet the fact is that the society is not running itself nicely… because the rest of us need all the energy, brains, imagination and talent that young people can bring to bear down on our difficulties. For society to attempt to solve its desperate problems without the full participation of even very young people is imbecile.” — Alvin Toffler
Alvin Toffler; American writer, futurist and businessman. Image via HuffPost
Going back to the beginning of the article, youths have always been taught to believe they are “supposed to be seen, and not heard”. But the fact is, youths should not underestimate the voice and spirit they carry within them, especially when it comes to what will benefit them in the long run as future leaders. Power to the youths!
Cover image via TalentCorp Malaysia