Young voters could be the next Sabah election’s kingmakers

KOTA KINABALU: Young voters aged 18 to 39 hold significant influence as potential “kingmakers” in the upcoming Sabah state election (PRN), said Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Professor Dr. Rosalam Sarbatly.


He said this group, consisting of 932,541 voters, accounts for 55.2 percent of the total registered voters in Sabah, which amounts to 1,689,387 individuals.

In terms of political literacy, he said that many young people in Sabah claim to have low political literacy, showing a “don’t care” attitude towards political issues and a lack of interest in participating in general elections.

Professor Dr. Rosalam said this is based on the results of the 15th General Election, which demonstrated the voting trend and patterns of the “Undi18” youth.

According to him, the political preferences of young voters are still influenced by traditional electoral dynamics and issues related to ethnicity and religion.

At the state level in Sabah, he said that the voting behaviour of young voters is more influenced by economic and development issues than ethnic and religious dynamics.

Professor Dr. Rosalam made these remarks during a speech at the signing ceremony of the research agreement between UMS and the Sabah Development Studies Institute (IDS) at the UMS Campus in Likas today.

In light of this awareness, UMS has proposed conducting a study on the dynamics, perceptions, and political aspirations of young voters aged 18 to 18 in Sabah to assess the current trends.

He added that this would also assist IDS, as the think tank of the Sabah State Government, in exploring these aspects based on data obtained from the West Coast, Kudat, Sandakan, Tawau, and the Interior of Sabah.

Meanwhile, Chief Research Officer Richard T. Koh is confident that the strategic collaboration with UMS will provide a great opportunity for IDS to continue sharing knowledge, experience, and resources to advance Sabah to a higher level.

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