Why a youth tsunami may not happen

WITH the UK general election just over, talk is that a similar situation can be to the benefit of Pakatan Harapan – a so-called "Youth Tsunami", as experienced by the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

While the UK media houses are waiting for Ipsos Mori to analyse the voter turnout to prove if the youth really did cause a hung parliament, here is a sobering fact. Our youth in the 2013 general election were split 50-50 between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan.
Plus, the legal voting age in the UK is 18. In Malaysia, it is 21.

Of course, you could paraphrase a quote from The West Wing – in a group of 10, changing one voter's mind puts you in the majority, changing two would make it a landslide.

Well, first of all, there is a need to address the euthanised, cancer-ridden rhinoceros in the room. Pakatan Harapan isn't the Labour Party, and it is centuries backwards in comparison when it comes to policy suggestions. At the same time, Malaysians are not the British public.

While we do have similarities like the demand for free education, this is the difference between Pakatan Harapan and the Labour Party. Labour in its manifesto details where the money will come from, in the form of increased taxes to offset the cost.

Do you know the Pakatan Harapan reply to such a question? It varies with each passing session.

Well there's this brilliant idea of somehow immediately stopping corruption and channelling that money into free education if they ever take over Putrajaya.

There is also this brilliant idea of shutting down government agencies to cut costs which will inadvertently lead to enough money for universal free education. Or so they dream on moonless nights.

And finally, there is this lovely, dismissive line often used during ceramah: "Let us win Putrajaya first and then we will tell you."

That just doesn't cut it in this day and age when we are supposed to be maturing as a political society. Thus, how can Pakatan Harapan believe that the youth will not raise plausible questions on how they should govern – not just federally, but also at state and local council levels.

What do the youth want – jobs, childcare, healthcare, education, all these are a given. What more?

These are purely broad strokes bordering a basic Maslow pyramid of needs. It's time to make harder decisions.

Would cheaper energy be acceptable if it was nuclear power?

Would public transport be acceptable by making driving, parking, fuel and toll, more expensive?

Would childcare and healthcare being free be acceptable if the money needed results from higher income taxes, and even increasing the goods and services tax?

Would we believe in cheaper goods through subsidy by increasing such taxes as well?

Their stances are getting weirder and weirder by the day. For instance, apparently PKR women are fine being mere seat warmers for their men.

Speaking of which, why are they stuck on the issue of who is going to be prime minister when they don't even have a shadow cabinet?

And while Alliance and later Barisan Nasional went through such squabbles as well, but they had an amazing advantage. There was a lack of smartphones, social media and other forms of technology in the 1970s up to the 1990s.

Pakatan has no such advantage, nor will they ever be granted leeway for such a reason. But can they benefit from it?

There has been a youth congress in Malaysia which discusses such issues and comes out with findings on exactly what the youth want.

It could be economic or even social issues, from religion all the way towards environmentalism and science education, sexuality and gender culture and language, racial unity and even unity beyond all segregation.

This is what Pakatan should look at when it comes to things that can be offered, and what the youth want.
The youth vote is divided, and requires feedback which is what the government does through the National Transformation 2050 agenda. And honestly, it is time that political manifestos detail how you are going to pay for what you offer, rather than make excuses afterwards.

Hafidz Baharom is a public relations practitioner. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com