PETALING JAYA: Some of their opponents are old enough to be their parents. But what these young election candidates lack in experience, they make up for with enthusiasm, the drive to serve and fresh ideas to implement should they become Yang Berhormat.
Fully aware of how large the young and young-ish voters bank is, political parties are throwing a large number of political greenhorns into the election fray.
One example is Muhammad Noor Azman, who at 30 is the youngest candidate fielded by Umno to contest under the Barisan Nasional ticket for the Kapar parliamentary seat in Selangor.
Armed with impressive credentials – a postgraduate degree in international commercial law from Cardiff University and serving as a special officer to Housing and Local Government Minister and Youth and Sports Minister – Muhammad believes his age actually serves as an advantage.
“People tell me that it is time for the young to come to the fore. They say that the country needs more young people to become leaders so there will be fresh ideas.
“I am here (contesting) to do just that,” Muhammad said, noting that in Kapar, 55% of the 189,000 voters are between the ages of 18 and 40.
He already has several plans up his sleeve for the area should he end up winning the seat on Saturday.
For one, he is planning to launch an economic grant of RM1mil for youths in order to encourage them to become entrepreneurs and provide job opportunities to other locals.
“They can apply for financial assistance to kick-start or expand their businesses, minus bureaucracy, and the fund will be managed transparently,” he said.
Hubs will also be created for youth in each of the three state constituencies under Kapar – Selat Klang, Sementa and Meru – to enable them to engage in recreational activities.
“For education, tuition centres offering free english, mathematics and religious classes will be opened.
“I will also push for new schools to be built to resolve the issue of overcrowding in SMK Meru and SK Rantau Panjang,” said Muhammad.
He is facing a seven-cornered fight for the Kapar seat.
Meanwhile, at 27 years old, Pakatan Harapan’s Tanah Rata state seat contender Ho Chi Yang feels that his age would definitely work to his advantage.
“I’ll be able to bring fresh ideas into politics, including how to increase political participation among youth – not just on local issues but at the national level too,” he said.
“I have been working on local issues here for the last five years with incumbent state assemblyman Chiong Yoke Kong, who is running for the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat this time.
“I think I stand a good chance. I know what to do when I come face to face with challenges,” said Ho, adding that he was also a student activist when studying at Universiti Malaya.
With the passing of Undi18, Tanah Rata – the Cameron Highlands parliamentary constituency – has about 6,500 new voters whom Ho is hoping to attract with his manifesto.
Among the issues he has promised to tackle are land justice by trying to get the state government to increase tenancy periods and reduce tenancy fees, as well as addressing traffic congestion issues in the area.
Perikatan Nasional’s Izzuddin Zulkifli, 31, who is standing for the Triang state seat, is also confident that as a young candidate, he would have more appeal among younger voters.
However, Izzuddin noted the challenge ahead of him – convincing the Chinese majority in his constituency to choose him over his opponents, who are both ethnic Chinese.
“Being young is an advantage as I think I can grab the youth vote. But in Triang, 16,000 voters are Chinese compared to 8,000 Malays.
“I need to convince the constituents that I am the right candidate for all of them and not only the Malays,” he said, adding that one of the issues he is championing for the area is land ownership.