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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Merdeka Center poll: Youth well informed but politically disconnected

Malaysian youth in general seem to be well informed on current issues but they
remain politically disconnected as found in a nationwide opinion poll released today.

The poll also found out that the youth of Malaysia feel that government decisions have a lot of impact in their daily lives but there is little that their votes can do to influence the government.
The opinion poll, National Youth Survey 2008, was conducted by the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research, with funding support from The Asia Foundation, to gauge youth perceptions of lifestyle, current issues, values, politics, and their own levels of civic and social involvement.

The poll was carried out between 13th November and 9th December 2008 and a total of 2,518
randomly selected Malaysian youth between the age of 20 and 35 years old were interviewed by
telephone. Respondents were selected on the basis of random stratified sampling along the national population profile and specifically proportional to gender, ethnicity and state of residence.

“This is the third consecutive year we have conducted this poll and we hope the data will help
policymakers, grassroots advocacy groups and youth organizations to understand the needs of young people and address their concerns based on factual findings,” said Ibrahim Suffian, the Programs Director of Merdeka Center for Opinion Research.

“These youth will shape Malaysia’s future so it is critical that we look at their attitudes towards their role in the community, in politics or simply to understand how they think,” he added.

Self-efficacy and politics

The poll identified 74% of youth as having low and moderate level of self-efficacy. Although the
perceived impact of government has on their daily lives increased from 72% in 2007 to 77% in 2008, the confidence that the youth have in elections declined by 16% when 80% of youth in 2007 said their votes could make some difference compared to 64% in 2008.

Ethnicity and their backgrounds contribute to significant differences in the level of self-efficacy
among Malaysian youth. For instance, the majority of ethnic Chinese, who attended Chinese school and Mandarin-speaking, were found to express lower levels of self-efficacy where some felt that there was not much that they can do for the community.

On the other hand, Indian respondents who attended Tamil school and embraced Hinduism have the highest level of self-efficacy. They seem to be energized and feel there is much that they can do.

The Malays and other Bumiputras held moderate views over the efficacy of their votes and their
abilities to influence the government.

If voter registration is taken as an indicator of political involvement, the poll shows that such
involvement is considered moderate as only 55% of the youth interviewed were registered voters.

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