Thursday, October 25, 2012

Youth and Political Awareness – by Anas Zubedy

I was recently invited to speak at Perdana Leadership Foundation in a forum titled, Citizenship in the Age of the Internet: Has the Internet increased political awareness among Malaysian youth?

The other panelist were YB Dato' Saifuddin Abdullah (Deputy Minister of Education), Tricia Yeo a researcher and former assistant to the Selangor MB Khalid Ibrahim,  Cheah Kar Fei a student leader, former AIESEC President of Malaysia. The session was moderated by Lim Teck Hoe.

I see being a panelist in this talk as a great chance to test a hypothesis I have regarding youth and political awareness. In a previous session I delivered early this year among 200 student leaders from all over the country, I polled the audience and most of them had no idea who Khairy Jamaludin is, let alone PR’s Nik Nazmi. From this, I had a hunch that the youth, despite the ‘noise’ they seem to be making about politics, are not really that aware.

In preparation for this talk, I experimented with the hunch. A telephone/face-on-face survey of 10 questions (5 behavioural/5 knowledge-based, Question 7 and 9 being tricky on purpose) was conducted between 15 and 16 October 2012. This is to minimize any opportunity to look up the answers and to capture the most candid ones. 120 respondents between the ages of 18 to 25 were surveyed and the answers supported my initial thought.

Here are the findings:

Question 1: Out of 1 hour of internet time, how  many % of it you spend on reading news about politics?
Summary: Total of 73% spend less than 20% of 1 hour of internet time on politics.

Question 2: You get your biggest chunk of information about politics from? (e.g internet, friends, parents, TV, newspaper, etc)

Summary: Source of information on politics: 54% - internet, 17% print media, 14% other people, 11% TV, 4% don't  know.

Question 3: Do you consider your interest in politics as 1) Very Interested,  2) Interested, 3)Oklah,  4) Not Interested  5) Don’t Care

Summary: Only 25% of the respondents are either interested or very interested in politics.  The majority of 53% rate their interest as only 'oklah'.

Question 4: In one word how would you describe our politicians?

Summary: 77% view politicians negatively.  The negative descriptions range from the mild 'complicated' up to 'unscrupulous' / 'crazy' / 'sneaky' , and most everything in between.

Question 5: Describe your trust level towards our politicians. 1) Excellent  2) Good  3) Average  4) Poor  5) Very Poor

Summary: Only 27% of them rate their trust level towards politicians a 'Good' or 'Excellent'.

Question 6:  How many seats are there in the Malaysian Parliament?
Summary: When asked of the number of parliamentary seats, 90% either got it wrong or don't know.

Question 7: Which ministry is Chua Soi Lek heading today? (Note: Trick question. Chua Soi Lek is not currently heading any ministry)
Summary: 92% has no clue that Chua Soi Lek no longer is a cabinet minister.

Question 8: What is the prerequisite to amend the constitution in the Malaysian Parliament? 51% votes, 63% or 75%?
Summary: 74% has no clue that a 2/3 majority of the parliament is required to amend the Federal Constitution.

Question 9:  How many federal and how many state seats does Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur has? (Note: Trick question. Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur does not hold any state seats)

Summary: 98% has no clue that the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur has no state seats (DUN) 

Question 10:  Do you know what Article 153 is about? Tell me a little about it.
Summary: 100% answered wrongly when asked what is Article 153 is about.  However, 8% of them did answer Malay rights but this is technically imprecise.

In conclusion.

The panellists were given a task to answer 4 questions with regards to the title. Based on the survey results, I provide conclusions as the following

1.    Based on all of the above consideration, do I believe that the age of Internet has increased political awareness among Malaysian youth? My conclusion : Not particularly.

2.    Do I think the Internet is being properly utilised to understand political and national issues? My conclusion : Not particularly.

3.    Why is that? My conclusion : Simple, there are just too many distractions out there and politicians are not seen as cool. If the youth likes football, they’d make an effort to watch the matches. If they fancy a particular celebrity, they’d be stalking the celebrity on twitter and be reading up about him or her in all available media. Our politicians lack the cool factor and as a consequence, the youth just don’t have that drive to fully use the Internet to catch up on current affairs, politics in particular.

4.    Ultimately, do I think the ‘Internet population’ will significantly affect the outcome of the thirteenth general election? My conclusion:  Not particularly. The parties are better off concentrating on their ground-level machinery, making sure their workers go all out to approach the voters, and also to curb internal sabotage to ensure UNITY IN PURPOSE.

I have another hunch..

If we ask the same questions to older Malaysians, the results would not be too far off too.

What do you think?


abdooss said...

You are cool in fb lah,, not in blog.. Why? In blog, you seemed rigid, like an academia.. while in fb, you are cool, chic and seemed to have lots of sense of humour plus 'MOJO'.. if you know what I mean.. ;)

ameer mydin said...

agree and i am not surprised at the answers at all , i failed 2 questions myself

Anonymous said...

Bro Anas

I believe that your conclusions isn't far off from reality. Too many are just plain emotional when talking about politics without actually considering the merits or otherwise of candidates & parties concerned.

Remember the part time model from Johor who stepped on the PM's photo? She said something along the lines that she was just following the crowd without knowing why.

Unless we discard our herd mentality, irregardless of how much change we think we can bring, the more it will be the same. Rubbish politicians, rubbish political parties that will revel in our division rather than unity.

Happy Aidiladha bro!!

Anonymous said...

Your survey is statistically not reliable. The number of sample is too small. If you want to do a reliable and statistically significant survey next time may i suggest you increase your sample to at least 300.

On political awareness among our youth and youth anywhere in the world, it is natural that they are more interested in chasing after girls, money and jobs rather than listening to old man like Nik Aziz and his 72 virgins in heaven. When they can have virgins on earth why worry about 72 virgins which they cannot see and may not be there at all.

I cannot be wrong as I was one of the youth before and most of my friends were all more interested in girls, cars, jobs etc.