Youth leaders agree on need to engage young urban voters
KOTA KINABALU: Barisan Nasional has to engage young voters effectively, especially those in urban areas, to win seats and the popular vote in the 14th General Election.
In reaction to Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin’s remarks on Thursday urging BN to strive to win the popular vote, BN youth leaders told the New Straits Times that it was crucial to get a wider mandate from the rakyat.
Sabah Umno Youth vice-chief Shahelmey Yahya said BN had to make a stronger appeal to voters to win the popular vote in urban areas.
“This is due to the fact that urban and younger voters nowadays are open minded and not so party-centric.
“They go for personality and capability, which are crucial for gaining trust and support in urban politics.
“So, we need to win the popular vote,” he added.
Shahelmey said BN must also place equal emphasis on winning older voters as they had become more open to change.
“In urban areas, middle-class voters from the baby boomer generation and Gen-X are as open-minded as the Gen-Y.
“Many middle-class voters are not partycentric,” he said.
Selangor Umno Youth chief Zainuri Zainal said they planned to conduct more youthcentric activities that would suit the taste of the younger generation, and use the opportunity to explain why BN was the better choice to rule the country.
“We must get closer to voters, especially the young ones in urban areas as they will return to their hometowns when it is time to cast their votes, bringing back their ideas and opinions, and influencing those in rural areas,” he said.
“It is crucial for BN to engage this group and explain to them.
“It is a heavy task, but it can be done by engaging them through activities and programmes that suit their taste.”
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Youth Chief Tsang Hing Yee said BN should strive to win the majority of seats and votes in all elections to garner a wider mandate from the rakyat.
“With a wider mandate, the government will be able to manage or tackle unreasonable issues raised by irresponsible quarters better. The government could focus better on substantive governance and development without too much disturbance,” he said.
Tsang also encouraged BN component parties to give more opportunities to young leaders to play an active role during activities and programmes so that the parties appear more approachable and get closer to young people.
United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) Komulakan movement chief and Kota Belud division chief Ewon Benedick said it was equally important to win the support of voters in urban, semi-urban and rural areas.
“To me, support from the people should be derived from the winnable policies of the ruling party which should be practical and implementable according to the area, and followed by engagement programmes by leaders of the ruling party on the action to pursue and advocate for its implementation,” Ewon added.
“If that is being done, then BN should not worry about winning the support of constituents.
“But, I agree with Khairy on the need to place greater emphasis on winning the support of urban voters.
“BN cannot afford to lose seats in the urban areas as it will indicate the level of acceptance of the urban policy of the government.”