Money is wasted on youth (ministry) - By Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Malaysiakini : “Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures
of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are
undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the
most serious obstacles to reform.”
― Henry David Thoreau
COMMENT | Does anyone else find it hilarious that Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman vows to defend
the freedom of speech of that doctor who wrote an anti-LGBTQ polemic
but remains strangely quiet when it comes to the freedom of speech of
Fadiah Nadwa Fikri and Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi?
This should tell you something about the politics at play or maybe
even the kind of prejudices which are acceptable to the ruling elite in
the country. Funny isn’t it, that the youngest minister in the government who is
supposed to be supportive of youths, has no opinion on the state’s
reaction to these two young activists. That Syed Saddiq has the gall to
claim that whatever form the new Biro Tatanegara (BTN) and National
Service programmes will take, it will mould the new leaders of tomorrow,
is the height of hypocrisy.
As far as I can tell these two young people are demonstrating
leadership qualities that other young people should pay attention to,
rather than the leadership qualities (or lack thereof) of the new
Pakatan Harapan regime. Honestly reading and understanding the issues these young people
bring up, how they handle criticism and the reaction of the state
towards them is far more instructive, in my opinion, on what it means to
be Malaysians than whatever voodoo programmes the Youth Ministry belch
up to justify its existence.
Which brings me to the little spat between opposition political
operative Khairy Jamaluddin and Syed Saddiq about the alleged misuse of
funds of the1Malaysia For Youth programme. Well, duh? Of course, some of
the funds would have been misused, but is this really a revelation or
is Syed Saddiq just taking a page from the older political operatives
instead of truly reforming his ministry?
My question is, why does Harapan keep insisting on keeping programmes
or tweaking them when before the election they said these programmes
were destroying Malaysia? Young Syed Saddiq said that the idea behind 1Malaysia For Youth
programme was “noble” because it was supposed to be about encouraging
volunteerism among young people. This is really silly. Any government
programme is there is encourage young people to vote for them. Can
anyone seriously make the argument that government initiatives – any
government initiatives – are non-political?
These programmes exist to brainwash young people into thinking that
the government is a benign entity which should be supported because –
depending on the quality and efficacy of said programmes – governments
bring some sort of benefit to their lives. Whatever they receive in
terms of experience or skill sets is built upon a foundation of
This said propaganda worms its way into young people and they
conflate political parties with the independent institutions of
government. They do not think of government institutions as independent
but rather as an extension of political parties. They may not articulate
it as such, but it’s all there in how they express what they think of
government and its role.
The real issues
Two points. 1. Has there ever been an audit on all these programmes,
and a determination of how the funds were used and who profited from
these youth programmes? I mean serious audit, not an audit to blame the
BN government for all that is wrong with this country. 2. Has there ever
been an in-depth study on how these programmes shaped the young
generation over the years? Or is this merely window-dressing to justify
the existence of a youth ministry while money gets diverted to who knows
Is the youth minister really interested in addressing issues faced by
young people these days? You know what young people talk to me about or
what has been reported in the press over the years? The following may
depend on socio-economic background but here goes (in no particular
Systemic discrimination in the public and private sector, religious
intolerance which hampers their intellectual development and social
lives, the cost of living especially young married couples, domestic
violence, crime, the lure of religious terrorism, substance abuse,
owning property, their sexuality, their activism, the disconnect
between their skill sets and the employment opportunities, talent
mobility in the region, lack of awareness in financial planning, how to
get other young people involved in the political process without
resorting to political parties, aging parents, mental and physical
health issues, lack of information about birth control or lack of access
to birth control and the list does go on. This is really just a taste.
You really think that these substantive issues have been addressed by
the former regime in any real meaningful way with drowning out the
voices of young people in propaganda or racial and religious rhetoric?
And does young Syed Saddiq want to play the same game?
Sure, spin doctors could make the case that the ministry has
attempted to address some of these issues but would anyone really buy
that? I do not get me started on the sports aspects of that ministry.
Anyway, my comrade, R Nadeswaran is better qualified to speak on that
subject. And he has.
Honestly, how have these programmes over the years shaped young
people? Has it made them more responsible citizens? Has it made them
more community-minded? I would argue that young people do have a better
sense of community than their elders but this is in spite of what the
government has done, not because of it.
Here’s a question. How do you get young people forget their
difference when some young people believe that there should be
Malay-only education institutions? Or that people should be cautious of
criticising institutions like Mara because of the sensitivities of those
involved? How exactly does “volunteerism”, “team building” and all
those other fancy terms, negate political and social boxes imposed on
young Malaysians and of which they desperately attempt to break free
from, sometimes resulting in clashes with the state?
Instead of spending money on these youth programmes and a revised BTN
propaganda effort, the money should be used on our education system and
healthcare system, for example. Instead of fighting over the United
Education Certificate (UEC), perhaps the Youth Ministry should discover
why national schools, which are supposed to be the time and place that
young Malaysians form their identities and integrate with one another,
have become a hotbed of racial and religious intolerance.
Young people do not need programmes for volunteerism or whatever else
nonsense to make them political leaders of tomorrow. What they need is a
primary and secondary education system where racialism and bigotry are
not enforced by the state under the guise of majority sensitivity.
Young people have access to information now. This, of course, does
not make them news literate but it does make them understand that there
is something wrong with this country and the people who lead it. How
many percent of the “young” population vote? Not if they are eligible to
vote, but if they even think that voting will improve their lives? I have no idea about anyone else and I, of course, do not speak for
young people, but when I see young political operatives talk about young
people, it seems like they do not speak for them either.
I get that Syed Saddiq is the youngest minister with no real working
experience but you know what, I can name so many other young people who
understand the problems of young people and who would jump at the
opportunity to use the ministry to further the agenda of young people.
All these programmes conjure up images of a Leni Riefenstahl film and if that’s the goal, great. But young people deserve better.