Based on the ASEAN Youth Survey 2021 by Redhill, Malaysian youths remain largely optimistic about the future despite the challenges faced during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the country. Many of them appreciate the basic state provisions such as healthcare and education. This is because their future life plans remain undeterred.
The third Redhill’s ASEAN Youth Survey analyses the roles of Southeast Asia’s youths as key drivers of economic, cultural, and socio-political change. The study attempts to have an overview of youths’ aspirations and concerns on:
Nearly 3,000 people aged 18-35 across seven ASEAN nations including Malaysia were involved in the survey.
Malaysian youth sentiment towards the government’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic has been largely ambivalent, with over 40% preferring to stay neutral on their thoughts. However, there is still some optimism, as there were over a third who thought more positively of the government’s efforts, compared to just over 20% who were more dissatisfied.
|Government COVID-19 management||>40%||>30%||>20%|
On both the sentiments of Malaysian youths on opportunities for public engagement and gender inclusion, as well as their ability to engage publicly on race and minority issues, the largest groups are those who remained neutral according to the Redhill survey.
|Opportunities for public engagement and gender inclusion||42%||30%||28%|
|Ability to engage publicly on race and minority issues||39%||27%||34%|
However, there is a greater variance between respondents at either extreme – those who thought Malaysia did well on public engagement and gender inclusion opportunities (30%) outweighed those who thought the opposite (28%).
In contrast, more Malaysian youths thought the government was not doing well enough on public engagement on race and minority issues (34%), as compared to the 27% with more positive remarks.
The Redhill survey also found that most respondents (87%) across all the Southeast Asian countries are worried about job security. 70% of the group noted that they have enough funds to spend on essentials now, however, they are concerned about providing for the future.
Up to 77% of the respondents even believed that they would need to take on another job to meet their financial aspirations.
These sentiments were also reflected in Malaysia, with such concerns tied to local macroeconomic factors. This includes the Malaysian youths’ perceptions on whether their country has implemented adequate policies for post-pandemic recovery and growth. In Malaysia, most respondents (42%) were on the fence about the matter, but there were those more upbeat about the situation (36%) compared to those with a gloomier outlook (22%).
On healthcare matters, most Malaysian youths believe basic healthcare provision in the country is good (54%). The adequacy of Malaysian healthcare’s affordability and access is also perceived positively. As there is basic healthcare security in the country, most local respondents also had positive remarks on the COVID-19 vaccine’s rollout, with over 70% thinking it as being adequate.
However, when it comes to speaking about more culturally sensitive matters such as sexual health (even with more trusted networks), youths can still be seen as hesitant, with most respondents at 36% staying neutral (although followed by the 34% who were more positive on the matter).
On contrary, most Malaysian youths (45%) are willing to discuss the matter with their trusted networks.
Across the region including Malaysia, most of the respondents of the Redhill survey believe that obtaining both basic and tertiary education is easy. In terms of whether Malaysia’s education system is highly competitive, most at 42% are neutral on the matter as compared to the 40% in agreement and the 18% that disagreed. Regardless, nearly half of the respondents believe that they are still able to handle education-related stress.
|Obtaining basic and tertiary education||42%||40%||18%|
When queried about their life choices, the respondents were given a list of life pursuits to rate the degree of importance they attribute to them.
The top-ranked pursuits in Malaysia are:
Meanwhile. 46% of the respondents were willing to travel internationally with lockdowns easing recently. Nearly 60% also think that owning their own home is financially realistic.
However, 57% believe that it would be financially challenging to build their own families.
The survey also found that Malaysians are digitally connected. Most respondents primarily source their news from social media (81%), and most at just under 50% spend between 5 and 10 hours a day on such platforms.
With this digital reliance, most Malaysian youths (72%) believe that there should be better education done to help people determine news accuracy. This is especially as most at 44% are not certain on whether national regulations are effective in curbing fake news and that, for most (46%) even their real-life political opinions have been affected by online political discourse.
Youths in Malaysia have been going through some of the most turbulent and uncertain periods of their lives. While 2020 was a watershed year for them, this year is when many have been adapting to the new normal – being highly aware of the challenges they face but working around them to carve a better, more certain future for themselves.Pranav Rastogi, Managing Director, Redhill.
The Redhill’s ASEAN Youth Survey 2021 report will be released on 27 December 2021 and can be downloaded at www.aseanyouthsurvey.com.