Economists hail Tok Mat’s call for youth to drive change

PETALING JAYA: An economist has outlined how the government can capitalise on youths in promoting the digital economy, saying the country is in dire need of change.

Barjoyai Bardai of Universiti Tun Abdul Razak said Malaysia could learn from countries like Japan, China and South Korea, which have embraced change and leveraged on technology.

He was commenting on Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan’s call for a bigger role for youths in all aspects of nation building, including in politics and the economy. He said the older generation must be prepared to make way for them.

“The call to pass the baton to the youth is timely. Change is constant and every facet of our lives needs to be reinvented,” he told FMT.

Barjoyai claimed that older people were uncomfortable with change.

He said it was only 15 years ago that Malaysia was ahead of China when it came to financial inclusion, which refers to the access individuals and businesses have to financial products and services.

“China’s adoption of fintech such as e-wallets has now grown to the point that 95% of the population can access these through the internet and mobile devices,” he said.

“Members of the old guard do not think the same way that youths do. They still hold on to the old ideas and concepts and this is where the youth can be drivers and catalysts for change.”

He said there was a need to provide a digital ecosystem and to “reskill and upskill” the young to make them drivers and catalysts.

Another economist, Yeah Kim Leng of Sunway University, said the digital economy needed appropriate infrastructure in order to grow, adding that affordable high-speed internet access was especially necessary.

To help the young play their role, he said, the National Education Blueprint would need to emphasise digital content and delivery systems and incorporate digital science, engineering and technology subjects at all levels of education.

“To promote a dynamic digital business eco-system, funding initiatives for start-ups and commercialisation ventures need to be stepped up through venture capital and private equity financing,” he said.

Yeah said the government should also introduce a national-level programme to foster closer industry and university collaborations to accelerate research, development and innovation.

The youth group Challenger Malaysia, one of the organisers of Parlimen Digital, said Mohamad had shown that he had faith in the younger generation’s ability to play a prominent role in nation building.

Parlimen Digital is a platform for youths to engage in public discourse, and Challenger secretary-general Jean Vaneisha said the support the initiative had received had been overwhelming.

“It clearly shows that the public welcomes this breath of fresh air in public discourse,” she said.

“The beauty in Parlimen Digital is clearly in its main message, using technology and principles of meritocracy to blank the slate.”

She said youths had shown that they were capable of leadership.

“No longer are we asking for change. We have stepped up and accepted the challenge of becoming the change we desperately need to see.”

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