Obstacles and Opportunities for Next Generation Leaders

A Barrier Analysis of Youth in Malaysian Political Parties

To better inform its approach to youth empowerment and skills-building programs, IRI sought to identify obstacles to leadership development and advancement for Malaysian political party youth members. Specifically, the study sought to answer two primary questions:

  1. To what extent are opportunities available to youth members aged 18-39 to obtain leadership experience or positions within their party?
  2. What party practices, processes, rules, or traditions, if any, limit or make it difficult for youth members to obtain leadership experience or positions within their party?

Leadership development and advancement opportunities include, but are not limited to, training programs; mentorship; access to resources; participation in decision-making processes at the branch, division, state, or national level, electoral campaigns, annual general assemblies and internal party elections; and political appointments.

IRI collected data for this study between August 29 and October 12, 2023; an external consultant conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews (IDIs) with 38 individuals (13 women, 25 men) aged 18-41 from 12 political parties. Thirty-three individuals are registered, active, party youth members aged 18-39, and five are previous party youth members aged 40-41, who were selected for their perspectives as former members. The external consultant selected study participants through purposive sampling from a list of approximately 390 former IRI beneficiaries.

The study sample skews disproportionately male, Malay, and toward peninsular-based parties. Additional details about methodology, including participants’ party membership and other information, can be found in Appendix A. Study participants were recruited using the screening questionnaire in Appendix C. In line with qualitative research, the findings described in this report do not necessarily reflect the circumstances of all youth members in the political parties included in this study. Rather, the findings are reflective of the obstacles facing Malaysian political party youth. For purposes of the findings, IRI does not distinguish between the parties with age[1]defined youth wings – the vast majority – and the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA), which does not. For analysis of party constitutions, IRI uses the terms branch, division, and state to refer to the different, yet identical-in[1]meaning, names used by parties to identify specific administrative-geographic units.

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