PETALING JAYA: Youths are the country’s best hope to bring an end to race and religion-based politics, according to Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann.
He said those aged 40 and below would make up more than 55% of all voters in the 15th general election, and political parties had to listen to them if they wished to get elected.
“If these young people, through social media or an organised movement, could voice their rejection of race and religion in politics, they can make a huge difference in how politics is conducted in this country,” he told theSun yesterday.
Fann was responding to a call by Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu senior vice-president Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof to youth to rise and change politics through a new movement that focused on issues.
Fadillah, who is also Petra Jaya MP, said the current practice of politicians focusing on race, religion and language was a barrier to a united Malaysia.
Public policy analyst Dr Lim Teck Ghee said youth needed to engage with others from different races first by making friends and respecting those of other cultures and religions.
“Do not listen to or disseminate racist messages over social media or in private conversations. Join multiracial organisations and groups. Enjoy and cherish the many advantages and benefits of a multiracial society.”
On whether youth were ready to tackle race-based politics to make a change, Lim said youth leaders from different communities should meet first to discuss how they could help the nation fight racism.
Political analyst Wong Chin Huat said if youths could develop a different mindset in a multi-racial society, they would be able to create policies that stood well.
He said if young people could formulate policy ideas to capture imagination across communal divides, they could phase out ethnicity and religion polemics.
However, he said, young people should not get obsessed with unity which, he said, was inherently incompatible with multi-party democracy.