In the United Kingdom in 2010, the coalition government of combined Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties introduced tuition fees for tertiary education. This led to a wave of protests by the younger generation.
Among them was Barnaby Raine.
On Nov 27, he gave an address to the Coalition of Resistance conference.
“We are no longer that post-ideological generation. We are no longer that generation that doesn’t care. We are no longer that generation that’s prepared to sit back and take whatever they give us,” Raine had said in his address.
He was 15 years old when he said those words, making him now 21. From what I have read, he is currently studying in Oxford and is even leading a movement called the Jewish Students for Justice in Palestine.
It is a highlight to myself that I am too old to make sense of the youth — and I am 33. I am already over the median age of Malaysians, which is 28.5 years old. By my own definition, I am no longer a member of the youth — contrary to the definition set by some political parties.
I am no longer paying my PTPTN, have paid off my credit card debts and, up to this day, still surviving without buying a car. Thus, there is obviously going to be a disconnect between my thoughts and what the current youth is thinking.
That being said, I backed the Tangkap MO1 protests by the students in public universities because they would be considered the voice of the youth. And quite frankly it is them who will inherit whatever screw-ups that will be done now up until the next two decades.
They will become graduates and get jobs — hopefully there will be jobs for them. They will subsequently marry — hopefully without the need to take out a personal loan on top of their already large PTPTN undergraduate bill.
They will then have children — hopefully with enough income to sustain raising a child and caring for household expenses simultaneously, including of course the need to take either a loan for a car or a loan for a house nearer to public transport.
They will have such options come 2020.
They will go through office politics, learn to pay the income tax, learn the need to travel outstation and keeping costs down while being away from their families. Heck, some might even learn to live on an offshore platform in the oil and gas industry.
And there will be a chosen few who will wind up running the nation, from whichever political side they support.
Which highlights another side of my lost youth — I am now jaded enough to see both sides as equally faulty as the other, comparing it to perhaps a bowl of excrement placed in front of a mirror.
These chosen few will be voted by their generation to come up with how to solve multiple crises that will come up in the next few years in Malaysia.
Depressed wages will still be an issue with no solution. Dependence on cheap foreign labour will still be yet another issue needing a solution, especially since there will be less jobs for this generation.
There will be fiscal issues such as how to reduce the government’s deficit and moving it into a surplus, how to survive increasing costs of living through handouts, and even whether or not everyone will be exempted from higher education debt.
There will be constant arguments to reduce or raise taxes, introduce new taxes and even abolish a few unpopular ones.
There will be issues regarding healthcare, primarily whether the government should move towards universal access similar to the UK’s NHS.
If we are in our 30’s or even 40’s, we honestly should be asking our youth what exactly do they want for a future and what are they doing towards achieving it?
Our brains are already hardwired into the here and now, with very little capacity to think of solutions needed in 20, 30 years. Who knows, by then Penang, Melaka and even Port Dickson may see themselves sinking into the rising oceans.
These questions, I do apologise to the youth, were screwed up or left unanswered, and even unconsidered, by those older than you. You’re going to have to come up with your own answers now.
Have at it. Ask around. Propose solutions. Take a stand.