"You Are The Future" — Malaysian Youth Encouraged To Embrace Their Role As Changemakers

The recent Youth Economic Forum 2022 saw over 500 youth coming together to discuss global issues and perspectives on economic development.

Cover image via Ministry of Finance

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This Spotlight is sponsored by the Ministry of Finance Malaysia.

The Youth Economic Forum (YEF) 2022 was held over the weekend, bringing together over 500 youth from various backgrounds to discuss global issues and new perspectives on economic development

Organised by the Perdana Fellow Alumni Association (PFAA), YEF 2022 marked the ninth instalment of the forum.

Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz was present at the forum, and shared about the nation's increasingly positive economic growth momentum in his keynote address, while spurring the young generation to take ownership of their role as Malaysia's leaders-to-be.

According to Tengku Zafrul, Malaysia has enjoyed three consecutive quarters of economic growth since Q4 2021, which is a positive sign

"In the second quarter of this year we grew by 8.9%. Our unemployment rate in August 2022 is at 3.7%, back to pre-pandemic levels, while the number of unemployed has recorded a consistent month-to-month drop, which is good news for job seekers.

"In fact, we have revised our 2022 growth outlook from 6.5% to 7% in the recently tabled Budget 2023. We see all this as a validation of our economic policies and fiscal management since the onset of the pandemic. Indeed, I can confidently say that the economy is on a much stronger footing now than it was at the height of the pandemic," he said.

Nonetheless, Tengku Zafrul also described the headwinds facing the world, such as recession, and stressed the importance of the government (and youth) to be agile to overcome these challenges

With the sharp tightening of financial conditions, Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, China's strict zero-COVID policy, and other factors, governments need to be responsive to the needs of the people.

In Malaysia, the Ministry of Finance has adopted a 3R approach (Responsive, Responsible, Reformist), with a focus on being agile, resilient, and impactful.

Ultimately, he said that the onus of building the country lies on every individual, especially for younger Malaysians to realise it.

"You are the future of Malaysia. We will not prosper, nor will we survive, if our youth remain passive and disengaged. So, come forward with determination and the desire to remain invested in this country's progress as the torch of leadership, in your families, companies, communities, industries, and even countries, will be passed to you all," he said.

PFAA president, Mistika Idris, echoed those sentiments and shared how challenges can be turned into opportunities for today's youth to become resilient

"It is easy to be pessimistic, especially in the world we live in today. Where so many people complain about the state of governments, the efficiency of intergovernmental organisations or the legitimacy of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and startups. Condemning only gets us so far," she said.

Instead, Idris shared how she has had the honour of meeting entire communities of youth that are so invested in putting their time, effort, discipline, expertise, and passion into a more positive and sustainable future — despite what the world has become and how demotivating the work may be to change it.

"Progress is not inevitable, and it requires struggle and perseverance and discipline and faith. But that's the story of how we as a generation will persevere."

"All of us here, the youth, have a responsibility to uphold, which is to restore the door of opportunity to the Malaysian dream of prosperity, inclusivity, and sustainability. To be present, to vote, to contribute and to voice out.

"In my opinion, that is both our privilege and our burden. We cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together," said Idris.

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