By DENIELLE LEONG
JUST hours after President Barack Obama’s session at the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) town hall concluded, an online news portal reported that NGOs were rather disappointed by the “weak questions” from student leaders. They claimed that these “future leaders” should have taken the golden opportunity to ask more critical questions about certain policies and current affairs.
The subtext didn’t come as a surprise to me at all. While I think that youngsters of my generation are more politically aware (we had a lot to say about the last general elections, after all), I feel that we still don’t know enough. Sometimes, I don’t even think we genuinely care.
You see, I come from a generation that lives for gratification and validation. Most of the time, we do things for the sake of it – especially when everybody else is doing it. (Take #selfies, for instance)
So, when GE13 was the ultimate “trending topic” last year, everyone latched on and made sure they were seen commenting on it.
The only problem with that is, most of them become overly dependent on their peers and social media to feed them information.
Consequently, these netizens then develop a skewed perspective on certain political parties. This eventually contributes to a domino effect, where the blind leads the blind.
And that’s what I really dislike. It’s cool that we are finally participating in politics (to a certain extent), but this newfound awareness should be harnessed to its fullest potential. Why are we being so complacent with the limited (and usually biased) information?
We’re lazy, that’s why. If the issue doesn’t concern us, we wouldn’t be bothered. So, go ahead and ask anyone about Obama’s policies … half of them might only have heard of Obamacare. In fact, you should also ask about Malaysia’s NEP – it might sound like a highway to some.
We hardly ever take the proactive step to improve the problems we complain about. The only thing we do is announce that we are “embarrassed to be Malaysians” whenever things don’t go our way – like when Future Music Festival Asia (FMFA) was cancelled following the deaths of six concert-goers.
The prejudice some Malaysians bear for their homeland is beyond me. Once, a friend shared a post on Britain’s tabloid Sunday Sport’s report that flight MH370 had gone to the moon. While it was obviously satire from the foreign media, many netizens were quick to blame Malaysia for being “an embarrassment to the world”.
So, if you ask me if Malaysian youths are politically aware, I’d say not really (for the majority) – we take in what we want and discard the rest.
People assume the worst and refuse to look past biases for the sake of gaining a clearer understanding.
But of course, all is not lost because there is time to set things right. For starters, do your research – read both sides of the story and always check the credibility of your sources. To learn about international affairs, I reckon R.AGE’s “Bijak Pandai” column is a great way to start.
Sometimes, it’s the littlest things that provide enlightenment. Hopefully, we can be a little more informed soon enough.