Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin at the TN50 dialogue session at UiTM Seri Iskandar on March 8. PIC BY ABDULLAH YUSOF

These days, people on the streets and kopitiams are talking about TN50. Cyberspace, where the young congregate, connect and communicate, is also abuzz with the topic.

While the old may be warmed by blankets of the New Economic Policy (NEP) and prospects of Vision 2020, the young are being transported into the era of National Transformation 2050, or TN50, a continuation of Vision 2020, as said by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

We have to admit, times have changed. Gone are the days when the government knows best. The younger generation, the Gen-Z community or the post-millennials, are of a different breed compared with most of us, who are of generation X, or Y, what more those from the baby-boomer era.

In this respect, the prime minister’s visionary and discerning view of the future of Malaysia should be celebrated by all and sundry. Despite being the architect of TN50, he nevertheless entrusted the task to Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to carry out the mission’s process of engagement.

Thus, it reflects the prime minister’s openness, which is devoid of any personal and political dividend. He wants to see the future set by the younger generation of today and tomorrow.

As it is now, nothing scares millennials. Cyberculture and technology are their world. They hunger for adrenaline-rush activities and voice out opinions, especially when confronted with something that they disagree.

When asked about their (preferred) future and how they want to live, when they are in their prime, they boldly pour their heart out.

That was what happened during the TN50 dialogue session held at UiTM Seri Iskandar recently. The session, which was aired live on RTM1 and moderated by Khairy and me, saw about 1,000 youths from Perak congregate at the university’s hall to voice out their aspirations.

It was such a delight to have the programme held in Perak during the four-day Permukiman in Perak Tengah.

The discourse was part of efforts to outline as many reasons why TN50 is important to these young people, to Malaysia. The TN50 policy document will be the result of all the feedback that will be compiled, as a guide for all the government policies and spending for the next three decades after 2020.

TN50 will give direction for Malaysia for the next 30 years. So, listen to these young souls we did.

One of the girls, a secondary boarding school student in the Perak Tengah area, boldly introduced herself as the “future prime minister of Malaysia”, much to the amazement of everyone in the hall and was met with cheers and applause.

Although her wish for a better transportation system technology is normal, her desire to have the opportunity to become prime minister is in itself an aspiration that needs to be acknowledged. I am sure that her voice is echoed by her contemporaries.

Others have spoken about changing the education system, from examination-based to knowledge-and-skills acquirement. Economy, sports, religious and culture preservations were also on their list of concerns.

With 2020 three years away, it is timely that we work hard for TN50. It was indeed an honour to have the aspirations of young Perakians included in the drawings of the policy document.

Eight years ago, when I was given the responsibility to lead the state administration, the first thing that I did was to draw up the master plan for the state. We call it the Amanjaya Development Plan, which is the only master plan that prioritises human development in the context of state development.

It provides a blueprint and aims to measure developmental success not only defined by economic growth, but also social development, improved wellbeing, and environmental sustainability to protect the natural wealth of the state.

Out of 43 state development indicators, five indicators measure economic and financial performance, while the remaining indicators measure social and environmental conditions and impact, demonstrating the state’s acceptance that monetary measures, such as gross domestic product per capita, are inadequate proxies of development.

In its scope, the state development plan reflects the state government’s engagement with community leaders, the Orang Asli, academicians, entrepreneurs, youth and women, and their hopes for a better future that is not centred on wealth accumulation.

Perakians want prosperity, peace, stability, a healthy planet and respect for their individual rights and freedoms, and their achievement in tandem with progress in Malaysia and the wider world.

There are seven Key Result Areas (KRA) stipulated to achieve the goals of having quality opportunities, quality income and quality living for the people of the state. One of the KRAs focuses on youth development, which encourages social harmony, improving youth knowledge and survival.

This is the foundation for the Council of Perak Aman Jaya Youth Leaders (MP2MPA) and Perak Youth State Assembly. Their voices will be channelled directly to the policymakers.

Other initiatives are the SRIA housing scheme under Yayasan Bina Upaya Darul Ridzuan to help youth own a house and microcredit loans for those who need financial assistance in starting a small business. Then there is our Youth Farming Programme through the state Agriculture Development Corporation.

We cannot just sit and wait for changes to happen or development to take place. Instead, we have to take action to support ideas and channel them to a proper direction.

The Permukiman programme enables us to engage people from all age groups. Whether it is related to sports, creativity, innovative or chatting, it’s all to provide room for them to voice out their opinions.

Although TN50 is in the planning, in Perak, in the context of youth for the development in the state, they have long been included. We have and will continue listening to them.

For a nation to prosper, listen to the voice of the young generation. And the prime minister just did the right thing — TN50.

Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir is Perak menteri besar

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