IT has been one year since the Transformasi Nasional 2050 (TN50) dialogue sessions were launched nationwide to hear the voices and aspirations of the youth. The ambitious project is entering its second phase in its aim to chart the country’s path for the next 30 years.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin speaks to Norzie Pak Wan Chek and Izwan Azir Salleh on TV3’s Soal Jawab to address issues.
Question: What’s the latest on the TN50 Youth Canvas?
Answer: I’m excited and overwhelmed by the commitment, hard work and excellent ideas from youth at TN50 dialogue programmes.
I was impressed by the creative aspirations and ideas voiced out over the year. We organised more than 130 dialogue sessions involving not just urban youth and university graduates, but also those from rural areas in Sabah, Sarawak and the East Coast.
Their voices will serve as our foundation. We succeeded in communicating and engaging them not just via face-to-face dialogues, but also through social media, which makes it about two million youths. We have collected around 60,000 aspirations.
This, to me, is a huge number as one of the things we wanted was to do it from a ground-up process.
The prime minister (Datuk Seri Najib Razak) has entrusted me with ensuring that TN50 is the people’s vision. What we want to shape comes not just from the government. The PM had said the era of “government knows best” is over. We want to hear from everyone, so 60,000 aspirations are a lot of ideas.
The TN50 Youth Canvas report will be presented to the PM and it will form the basis of the national policy, which will be explained to the people in September. These are the voices of our youth, which will serve as our foundation. The government will discuss this and see which ones will form the nation’s policies.
Q: Are the voices of two million youths enough to represent the people’s aspirations to shape the country’s policies?
A: I think two million isn’t a small number, as it’s impossible for us to get everyone involved. Our initial target was 1.5 million. We exceeded that number because the youth saw the platform as a sincere one.
This isn’t a political campaign or government propaganda. This is a government that wants to know the hopes, dreams and aspirations of its youth for the next 30 years.
At the same time, I used the opportunity to ask the youth whether developments would remain the same for the next 30 years. We will become an ageing society. We will face changes in the healthcare system, technology, geopolitics, food shortage and other disruptions. This forced them to think beyond their comfort zone.
Q: What about the approach to shape the mindset of leaders so they can better understand youth?
A: I was surprised at the willingness of youth to look far into the future. In the early stages, I was afraid that they would be concerned only with the issues of today and unable to envision problems 30 years ahead. I was impressed that youth can map out preparations needed for the next 30 years.
When I visited Sabah and Sarawak, there were many views on the importance of development not just for now, but also for the long run. As such, present development must take into account the impact on the environment, electricity use, technology and renewable energy, thus showing the positive development of our youth.
They not only think of development in material terms, but also the importance of having development that will not burden the next generation, on matters such as environmental damage, deforestation, as well as boosting awareness about the importance of public transportation versus using one’s car. This, to me, is a victory for our system in opening up the next generation to new ways of thinking.
Q: How will these initial aspirations be absorbed into the key performance indicators (KPI) for ministries?
A: We are in the preparatory stages as the policy documents have yet to be finalised, but there are many initiatives that can be started now.
Take Industrial Revolution 4.0, for example, such as how we view technological development in digital, biological industries. In my ministry, we have started this with the cooperation of a foreign company renowned for its work in hardware development, to strengthen the National Youth Skills Training Institute (IKBN), thus preparing them for IR4.0. There are other initiatives we have done as pioneer projects, which show that we don’t need to wait until 2050 to begin.
Recently, my ministry introduced a community-based cashless initiative. We didn’t need to wait until 2020. To me, we do what we can as TN50 does not need to wait until 2050.
Q: What are the ideological differences between youth today and the previous generation?
A: The healthcare system, for example, isn’t touched on by the younger generation as they assume that they will always remain healthy, and that there’s no need to be concerned with retirement yet. But I challenged them to think of how to maintain the almost-free healthcare system given its high subsidy, in line with society’s longer life expectancy and meagre retirement funds. Only then did they think.
On geographical aspects, rural youth voiced their hopes on development to be on par with other areas. In Sabah and Sarawak, I heard aspirations on education. Many asked for schools in rural areas and for the interior areas to have the same facilities as those in cities. Youth’s consensus was that they want the government to continue its tradition of fairness and equality for all. Just because a school is in a rural area, it should not be denied facilities.
They also said traditions and identities in kampung must be preserved, yet equipped with fast Internet, uninterrupted electricity supply, clean water and wide roads. They understand the importance of preserving identity, and that there is no need to urbanise everything.
Q: What of claims by some that no more aspirations will be accepted after February?
A: That’s not accurate as the floor is open to suggestions through our social media platforms and website. While meetings and discussions have been completed, we are receiving and listening to suggestions. We just have to reach a point to submit the policy document.
What’s special about TN50 is that it is followed by an action plan that does not need to wait until 2050. Every five years, we will review whether the targets have been met or otherwise.
Take, for example, our aim of becoming a carbon-neutral country. We have to inculcate in people from now our expected levels of achievements and how far off the target are we. For instance, if we want to reach the World Cup finals, we have to plan from now as well as assess our performance.
Q: What are the criteria used in feasibility tests for the TN50 aspiration screening process?
A: Cost is one of it. We do not want to promise what we can’t achieve in terms of cost. For example, the cost of establishing a city on Mars would be astronomical, so we would filter that out. Secondly is impact. If its effect on the people is minimal at best, it is put aside first. Thirdly, the suggestion’s adaptability to technological changes, such as those affecting the education industry.
Right now, 65 per cent of the types of jobs set to be filled by primary school children of today have yet to exist. So, how do we change the education system to ensure that the children are equipped to take up jobs that will exist only in the future, given the advancement of technology?
Q: If all the aspirations were to be realised, will Malaysia become the country we had envisioned?
A: I believe that the principles of the aspiration report is in line with building a country that I myself dream of. Given that Malaysia is capable of competing on the global stage, our benchmark isn’t the Asean region but the top 20 countries in the world.
The PM said we needed to forgo old benchmarks. We must use global ones, but at the same time, be a fair country, preserve principles of a loving and caring society and ensure that no one is left behind in the course of development. Malaysia has balanced development. It’s not just focused on major cities.
Malaysia has a high sense of responsibility in terms of politics and its people. We always say that the government has to act responsibly, but its people also share the same task, which is to play a role in maintaining cleanliness, civic responsibilities and a clean environment.
If these are met, I am confident that Malaysia will shine brighter as the ingredients are there. Our identity is not a burden, our differences are not a burden, but an asset.
Q: What do youth say about the future of the nation’s politics?
A: They want to see a mature political environment, not a toxic one filled with hate and fake news. They want an open political system and for there to be no issue with differences.
Differences cannot be used to divide youth based on their political ideologies. I feel that this is an important component as I’ve always asked what would happen to TN50 if the governments of today and tomorrow were different.
This is the voice of the people, hence why the PM wants this implemented from the ground-up. So whoever leads the country has to respect the voice of the people as this isn’t the voice of KJ (Khairy Jamaluddin) or the voice of the government, but the people’s aspirations. The government of the day has to respect the voice of the people, presented through TN50 dialogues.
Q: Is the ‘new deal for youth’ you asked to be included in BN’s GE14 manifesto a thrust of TN50?
A: The new deal I spoke of was in the context of youth’s political aspirations. I do not want them to see TN50 as being the answer to how they will shape their future as there are those who feel that the problems today relate to politics. They often ask about efforts to aid the youth, such as jobs, housing and others, hence why the new deal is different.
This is a mini manifesto for the youth prepared by Barisan Nasional. It’s a short-term solution. But the message we are trying to deliver via the new deal is solving the problems of today. TN50 will try to tackle the challenges of the future, meaning governments of the future.