By TAY TIAN YAN
Translated by Soong Phui Jee
Sin Chew Daily
Fifty-eight-year-old Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak seems to have rejuvenated himself lately.
He appeared on three radio stations and shared his thoughts on football, music and social media during the shows on 20 September 2011. He even pulled off a prank on an unsuspecting senior executive of a radio station.
Earlier, Najib had also made an appearance on Chinese-language One FM radio station with his son Nor Ashman, and talked about hot topics among young people.
Last weekend, he made a surprise appearance at a rock concert. He even shuffled on the stage and shook hands with the cheering audience.
Months ago, Najib also joined more than 10,000 football fans to watch the live telecast of the UEFA Champions League final at the Putrajaya Square. Wearing a Manchester United jersey bearing his name and the numeral 1, he cheered warmly for the Man U.
He had also participated in at least two major youth seminars in the recent two months to listen to the views of young people and encourage them.
Najib seems to have become younger and it is very different from his previous image.
Image can affect a person's identity and status and decide the degree of support of a politician.
Malaysia is a young country and its political trend is gradually getting younger and younger.
About 450,000 young people have reached the voting age each of the five past years and we have now more than 2 million potential new voters.
Voters below 40 years old have also accounted for 70% of the total number of voters.
Any party being able to win the support of young people should then win the election and become the ruler.
The theory is as simple as that but it is a complicated wisdom to fight for young people's support.
The average age of Umno and BN component party leaders was high in the past and the parties' images were old, resulting in a gap with young voters.
The conservative policy and paternalistic governance of the BN government allowing too little freedom and causing rigid ideologies, have resulted in discontent of young people.
The rise of the Pakatan Rakyat had given a new hope to many young people.
However, the three component parties of the Pakatan Rakyat have taken the support of young people for granted. They have been complacent and negligence, without consolidating the support of young people.
Young people of the Malay community could have been a fertile farmland for the PKR and PAS. Unfortunately, the two parties have failed to cultivate the land well.
The PKR has not conveyed its political ideology among the young generation but just disappointed them.
Meanwhile, PAS has ignored the world view of young people but dedicated only to its religious ideology, particularly PAS Youth, which has called to ban concerts in the country and had a hand in young people's clothing.
The young generation in the Malay community has made a collective turn to support Umno, as they are either not familiar with the PKR and PAS or resist the parties.
Umno has gained most of the votes of young people in the previous few by-elections and several surveys have also shown the same tendency.
Najib understands that young people are politically apathetic and thus, he tries not to talk about serious political, racial and religious issues with them.
Najib also understands that young people are fond of football, music and they like to communicate online. They are concerned more about personal future than social issues. Therefore, Najib adapts to their thinking in a cool way.
Winning the hearts of young people equals to political victory.
The Pakatan Rakyat's future would be at risk if it does not know how to play the game.