In the grand scheme of things, it’s a crime to underestimate how vital the younger generation is (wait, are Millennials still considered young…?) to create a brighter future for Malaysia. It’s truly a blessing lah when got initiatives to foster our nation’s youth, especially one in which the government, the private sector and international organisations are involved.
One such initiative is the Youth Economic Forum 2022 by Perdana Fellows Alumni Association, which was held on 29 October, at Sasana Kijang, Bank Negara Malaysia.
“Hold on, what’s this Forum actually ah?” Well, we’re glad you asked!
1. Readying Malaysian youths in various key areas
The Youth Economic Forum (YEF) is an annual event that gathers Malaysian youths to have meaningful conversations about nation building and important socio-economic issues, with the help of distinguished speakers from the public and private sectors.
In partnership with the World Bank Group, this year’s Youth Economic Forum 2022 focused on how youths can engage with every level of society to resiliently recover from the pandemic. To make this heady topic more digestible, YEF 2022 broke it down into six key areas for its panel of speakers to discuss:
a) Education: Putting education back on track
The pandemic forced Malaysians’ education to take a backseat while changing it in various unexpected ways, for better or worse. This panel discussion dove deep into our access to education, the concept of open-loop education, and the redefined role of universities.
b) Sustainability: Driving people-centered energy transition
There’s so much more to clean energy than just averting the worst effects of climate change. It’s also about inclusivity, equality, employment, social and economic development, and empowering people to transition to an eco-friendly alternative, everything that this panel touched on.
c) Digital: Transiting into the digital space
One of the plus sides of the pandemic was that it accelerated the accessibility and versatility of digital technology in private and public sectors, though the same can’t be said for policy frameworks surrounding this ecosystem. Thus, this session explored the new challenges of access, connectivity and infrastructure; youth digital literacy and skills; cybersecurity and data privacy; and fair competition in the digital industry.
d) Business: Doing better business – Rethinking and Revitalising future-ready economies
It’s a known (and disheartening) fact that countless businesses, especially small ones, had to tutup kedai due to the pandemic. The question is, how can we prevent that from happening again? This panel discussion examined how Malaysian youths can help build holistic and sustainable economies and businesses, including but – not limited to – digitalisation, social entrepreneurship, and more.
e) Economic: Manoeuvring the new reality for youth
Increased unemployment rates, poor financial resilience, and stagnating wages are just some of the obstacles that young Malaysian working adults have to endure. To provide more insight into this issue, this session dug into some of the factors that could contribute towards youth economic stability, including youth financial literacy and asset affordability.
f) Political: Remodeling the political and democratic landscape in Malaysia
With the nation’s future now in limbo, many are turning to our youths to guide and steer Malaysia, but they’re discouraged from climbing the ladder due to current structures in place. This panel discussion reviewed the actions and policies needed to create a stable political playing field, and what we as voters can do to support this cause.
YEF 2022 was truly packed to the brim with intellectual discourse that participants could benefit from. But, that’s not all there is to the event!
2. Charting a positive course for nation-building
One of the biggest highlights of YEF 2022, had to be the keynote address given by our very own Minister of Finance, Senator Tengku Datuk Seri Utama Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.
“The youth, after all, are the future,” he said, addressing the participants. “You will inherit Malaysia, as well as its vast potential and numerous challenges. So, it is totally appropriate to start, even at a young age, to think about these issues as it is the best way to prepare yourself for leadership later.”
After all, plenty of great Asian leaders in the past started their pursuit early, such as Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore and even our own Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak of Malaysia. “(They) all started their activism young, and not necessarily in politics. But when their nation called, they answered, and they willingly stepped up and served.”
In his keynote address themed “Charting a Positive Course for Nation Building with Agility, Resilience and Impact”, Tengku Zafrul acknowledged that the IMF (International Monetary Fund) forecasts global growth to slow down, again, from 3.2% this year to 2.7% in 2023, the weakest global growth profile since 2001.
However, the finance minister assures that it’s not all doom and gloom, with many bright spots worth remembering. This includes three consecutive quarters of economic growth since late last year, the unemployment rate returning to pre-pandemic numbers at 3.7%, and according to the recently-tabled Budget 2023, Malaysia’s 2022 growth outlook was revised from 6.5% upwards to 7%!
“We see all this as a validation of our economic policies and fiscal management since the onset of the pandemic,” he expressed. “Our bold actions in saving lives and livelihoods, and protecting businesses over the past two and a half years, have enabled us to build greater resilience in the economy to face future challenges, especially the bleak global outlook for 2023.”
3. The importance of Agility, Resilience and Impact
The battle is far from over. With the philosophy of “Agility, Resilience and Impact” and the Ministry of Finance’s “Responsive, Responsible, Reformist” policies, they’ve assisted the government to chart a positive course for Malaysia with the following initiatives:
- Investing heavily in digital infrastructure and connectivity
- Installing 5G to future-proof Malaysia’s economic growth.
- Generate RM650 billion in cumulative GDP growth and 750,000 high-income jobs all the way to 2030.
- Addressing employment needs
- Allocated RM4.8 billion through JaminKerja for job creation, reskilling and upskilling.
- Create meaningful work with meaningful pay to support the rising cost of living.
- Increased minimum wage to RM1,500 to improve standards of living from 1 May onwards.
- Embrace environmental, social, and governance (ESG) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
- Identify funding gaps for related programmes and further safeguard the future prosperity of the nation.
- Launched the MySDG Foundation earlier this year with the United Nations, a platform for the private sector and NGOs to contribute to achieving SDG goals.
- Maintain a strong grip on Malaysia’s fiscal health
- Conducted advanced studies on subsidy rationalisation measures and widened the revenue base.
- Increase tax revenue-to-GDP ratio above the current 11%, in line with our proposed Medium-Term Revenue Strategy and the Fiscal Responsibility Act, to be tabled when parliament sits next.
- Always uphold inclusivity
- Close gender gaps by being gender-conscious in policy-making and execution.
- Spread development equitably across geographies to narrow down development, income and digital gaps.
With GE15 just around the corner, Tengku Zafrul urged everyone to carry out their civic duty and cast their votes for the Federal Parliament, especially those between the ages of 18 and 20 who will be voting for the first time.
“We must restore stability to bring back Malaysia’s shine and appeal in the eyes of investors and the international business community,” he implored. “What better way to do this than to express ourselves through the ballot box.”
“At the end of the day, regardless of the outcome, we must eventually close ranks because we are all #TeamMalaysia, and Malaysia simply MUST win.“
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