Malaysia’s budget and the grim future outlook for the youth.
It is now well understood that one of the crucial drivers of the crises in the Middle East is the discontent of its youth. Arab countries have been unable or unwilling to provide jobs, education, opportunity and rights for their young and so, finally, they revolted. Is there any lesson in this story for the Malaysia? Not directly; there is no analogy between Middle Eastern dictatorships and Malaysian democracy. But if the troubles of Arab youth make us shine a light on the state of Malaysia’s youth, the picture that emerges is grim.
As countries get rich, you might assume that they focus greater attention on their children. Not in the Malaysia. The federal government’s expenditures are mostly just sugar coated programs that do not reach the target areas and solve the relevant issues.
The youths in Malaysia need to be provided with affordable education and skill that make them marketable and relevant. At present with the simple fact that education in Malaysia is not free beyond form 5 and 6 where it is necessary to borrow from banks and PTPTN just prove that on their own family financials, these youths simply can’t afford higher education. The other simple fact that their English are bad proves that their skills are barely marketable.
Many foreign workers are needed in the service, construction and plantation industries proves that the government has not been able to provide our youths within that spectrum of the job market the relevant knowledge, skill and added value to ensure that they are more competitive in the eyes of the employers rather than the foreigners.
The youth without the normal education credentials must be provided with manual skills, discipline, work focus and dedication that they can earn the compatible salaries to their worth and outdo the foreigners. If the work atmosphere cannot be adapted to the youths’ expectation, then their expectations must be adapted to the atmosphere. For example on the construction industry with very laborious and harsh conditions, the Indons and Banglas are able to withstand it and they earn more than many of the local junior supervisors. What the government can do for example the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), is to train these youth in the skills of bricklaying, barbending and carpentry work to really go into the field like soldiers being trained to fight at the war front, rather than just issuing them skills certificates and hoping to be a boss in some small construction firms, albeit a lowly paid junior boss it may be. The same approach could be implemented in other industries.
But of course it won’t solve the need for foreign workers, but our youths will all be productive. The education and training become worthwhile and able to reach the target, reduce employment, improve lives of the workers, meet the minimum wages requirements and we thus have provided them with the ability to fish by themselves.
By contrast, spending on the adults has skyrocketed, in the form of subsidies, increase in their salaries, more infrastructures and extending the pension age encompassed in the recent overall sugar coated pre-election budget.
Why is this happening? To put it bluntly, children don’t vote or make campaign contributions, and the adults do both aggressively. Our political system is responsive to votes and money, so the natural consequence is that those who bring most votes will get more money.