After much hype the ‘Tangkap MO1’ rally has come and gone. In the lead up to the event, organizers had aimed to draw 5000 participants but alas the demo only managed to attract a little over 1000 protesters. While it appeared to be a largely uneventful and a muted gathering, the entire episode however carried an important message – the younger generation are slowly becoming more vocal in their views.
Although the university student leaders’ lacked experience as they gave their speeches to compel local authorities to ascertain and reveal the individual named ‘Malaysian Official 1’ mentioned in the United States Department of Justice civil suit, it marked a significant shift in Malaysian youngsters’ boldness. The rally was initiated and led by young Malay students. It has been forty years since the student movements of the 60s and 70s perhaps the cycle is ready for a repeat.
Interestingly enough it was reported in mid-August by the Election Commission as of January 2016 there are 4.2 million people who are eligible to vote but have yet to register. Of this total, 2.4 million were Malays. This is an astounding figure and something that should be of concern given that this particular ethnic group is spoilt for choice come general election.
Previously Malay voters had the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) or People Justice Party (PKR). Now there are two new additions to select from – Parti Amanah Negara (PAN) and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), if successfully registered.
The student leaders could possibly take their efforts further and use their new found interest in grassroots movement to educate the Malay community on the importance of registering to vote. Notably, UMNO’s youngest wing Puteri UMNO had recently stated that it will be more aggressive in attracting young supporters by targeting 500,000 members and working towards registering them as voters to win the next general election. This is testament of how important it is to reach out to the unregistered Malay voters.
The student leaders are still trying to figure out their footing in Malaysia’s politics. Street protests is just one form of tool that can be utilized to voice dissatisfaction. Malaysia is a country that practices democracy and as the future generation the student leaders’ have a significant role in the country’s political development. They may wish to focus their attention on getting more Malays to exercise their rights at the ballot box. As the saying goes one vote, one voice.