PETALING JAYA: The large and growing youth population in Sabah and Sarawak can contribute significantly towards nation building if the right policies and initiatives are put in place in Budget 2021, says Pertubuhan Transformasi Dayak (Trada).
The statement from the youth and community advocacy group came after Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said the government will prioritise youths as one of the target groups under the upcoming Budget.
Trada president and founder Joseph Anak Janting said the organisation was heartened by the Finance Minister’s commitment.
“The National Statistics Department had indicated that there are 14.6 million Malaysians aged between 15 and 39, which makes up 45.4% of the total population. Interestingly, a significant segment of the population in both Sabah and Sarawak are under the age of 40.
“However, youths in Sabah and Sarawak face unique challenges including access to modern technology and connectivity, quality education and high income job opportunities,” he said in a statement today.
Joseph said many have had to leave their homes in search of better jobs across the region or in Peninsular Malaysia, breaking up families and communities.
“I am one of those who left my home state of Sarawak to come to Kuala Lumpur in search of a better life for myself and my family.
“Trada believes that youths in Sabah and Sarawak have the potential to contribute more significantly to the national economy, and they do not have to leave their homes to achieve this,” he said.
Trada, in its statement, made three recommendations for Budget 2021.
“Firstly, establish a continuous learning fund to up-skill and re-skill Sabah and Sarawak youths in order to meet current job requirements in emerging high growth and high income industries in East Malaysia such as oil and gas as well as modern agriculture.
“Secondly, create a microfinancing platform that is specially tailored to Sabah and Sarawak youth entrepreneurs. This is to spur ideation and execution of clever business concepts that embraces technology, local insights and community-centric solutions.
“Thirdly, enact anti-black market policies that address prices and duties as well as enhancing enforcement efforts to curtail the black market that is stifling socio-economic progress. Sabah and Sarawak lead the nation in illegal cigarettes and this has caused many direct and indirect problems to youths,” the statement read.
Joseph concluded by saying that Trada’s recommendations are not only aimed at catalysing opportunities for Sabah and Sarawak youth to succeed, but also to remove “deep rooted problems that have harmed the people of East Malaysia”.