Howard LeePETALING JAYA, Sept 30 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) Youth told millennials who plan to abstain from voting in the next election that they would be retaining an undemocratic system because Malaysia has yet to elect an alternative government.

Pakatan Harapan national youth council chief secretary Howard Lee said abstention “may have its point to make” if Malaysia was a true democracy where elections reflected the will of the people.

“One of the cornerstones of a true democracy is the ability of the electoral system to be able to change the ruling party. We've not proven that.

“So that must be the primary objective...abstaining from voting would be upholding the status quo of an undemocratic system,” Lee told Malay Mail Online here.

Pakatan Rakyat, comprising PKR, DAP and PAS, won the popular vote in the 13th general elections, but the coalition only won 89 seats in Parliament to the long-ruling Barisan Nasional’s (BN) 133 as much of the support for the Opposition came from larger urban constituencies. The 2013 election that saw BN’s worst electoral performance had a historic 85 per cent voter turnout, with the majority of new voters reportedly aged between 21 and 40.

Pakatan Rakyat, however, disbanded in 2015. It was replaced with Pakatan Harapan comprising PKR, DAP, PAS offshoot Parti Amanah Negara, and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) founded by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“If we want democracy, we need to exercise responsibility and be part of that democratic system. And abstaining is tantamount to being irresponsible to that agenda,” said Lee, who is also Pasir Pinji assemblyman from Perak.

The DAP lawmaker, however, acknowledged public sentiment about abstaining from voting and attributed it to PH’s “failure of communication”.

“I would disagree that Pakatan doesn't promote certain things...I would say that it's more of a failure of communication rather than us failing to stand up for certain issues and certain things,” Lee said.

He also disagreed with claims that the federal Opposition pact did not have a substantive economic plan for the country.

Malay Mail Online reported last week on several anti-establishment middle class youths in their 20s and early 30s who said they might abstain from voting in the 14th general elections, due by August 2018, mainly because they did not see PH proposing substantive policies or promoting secularism.

Polling outfit Merdeka Center said it expected youth abstentions in the upcoming general elections to range between 5 and 8 per cent.

The Election Commission said today that less than 10 per cent of the 30,000 students met in roadshows at local universities and colleges have registered as voters, claiming that youths told them they did not want to be involved in politics and felt their vote had no weight.