For the first time ever, Malaysians aged 18 to 20 were eligible to cast their vote in the 15th General Election (GE15) held on 19 November. With over a million first-time voters, students from INTI International College Subang were also part of the Undi18 cohort who had their index fingers inked in choosing parliamentary representatives.
Caroline Manuel Pillay, a 19-year-old student pursuing her Diploma in Mass Communication at INTI International College Subang, recalled how anxious she was to see people of all ages bustling in front of the polling centre at SMK Seri Permata, Damansara.
“Everything was strange and new to me, but I tried to remember what I read from the Election Commission’s website on the dos and don’ts of polling day. It helped me focus and remain calm that day,” she said, adding that she was impressed about how systematic the polling process was.
Caroline, who voted for the Damansara parliamentary seat, said that she had researched on the manifesto of different political parties so that she could make a more informed decision.
“I feel responsible to fight for the youth. I did my homework before deciding on which candidate to vote for. Regardless of different races, I know we all came here for a good reason,” said Caroline who hoped to see improvement on issues such as wage growth and unemployment.
Twenty-year-old Young Mohammad Juffri Young Juwahir, a student from the Faculty of Mass Communication at INTI International College Penang, was both thrilled and nervous to see the list of candidates on the ballot paper.
“I took some time to decide when it was my turn at the polling station. I was clueless,” he said.
Accompanied by his mother at the SJK (C)Tun Tan Siew Sin polling station in Putra Heights, he admitted that he would have voted blindly if he did not take the effort to read articles about the candidates and parties contesting.
Students from INTI International College Subang, aged between 19 and 22, proudly shared their experience in casting their first ballot during the 15th General Election.
Meanwhile, Ee Jia Qi, a 20-year-old student pursuing the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Psychology at INTI International College Subang, said the general election allowed her to return to her alma mater at SJKC Pu Sze, in Skudai, Johor Bahru, and meet up with former classmates.
“It was great to meet up with former classmates while we waited in line patiently to vote for the first time,” said Ee Jia who came with her father and sister at noon to avoid heavy rain.
When asked about her journey returning home, she said she enjoyed the whole experience – from the first day she arrived until the end of the polling day.
“The atmosphere was different as everyone shared the same excitement. My family and I hope for a government that dares to make changes that would benefit the youth,” she said with a hopeful smile.
Nicholas Chan Zew Yew, 22, who is currently pursuing the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Marketing in Collaboration with University of Hertfordshire at INTI International College Subang, planned his time ahead before going to SMK Tanah Putih in Pahang to cast his vote.
“I reached the centre at 9am but was greeted by a long queue. I liked how calm people were at the time and how the officers tried their best to make the process smooth,” he said.
Meanwhile, 22-year-old Tan Chi Yan, a student pursuing the Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Psychology at INTI International College Subang, had unfortunately ended up at the wrong polling channel and only realised it after she had spent a while queuing.
“I was quite nervous that morning. Luckily the committee were helpful and quickly took me to the correct polling channel,” he said.
The Ministry of Higher Education had announced a special leave from 17 to 21 November for students from higher education institutions nationwide to allow them to return to their hometown to fulfil their democratic rights. The 15th General Election saw a final voter turnout of 73.89 percent.