An introduction by Flavia Vaz, senior manager and consumer lead, Edelman Kuala Lumpur, written on September 26, 2013.
Mention “Vision 2020” and many Malaysians will immediately recall the ambitious national agenda of transforming the country into a fully developed nation by the year 2020. Following two significant Malaysian national days – Merdeka and Malaysia Day – and the year 2020 fast approaching, what better way to demonstrate our diversity, hopes and dreams for a mature nation than through the personal stories and perspectives of a generation that has lived through and pursued significant change for themselves and their community.
Words of a Generation: Malaysia is a series of seven short films by Edelman featuring 10 Malaysians born between 1981 and 1991 on the topics of connect, consume, dream, explore, love, play and work. These Malaysians grew up surrounded by the dreams of Malaysia’s “Vision 2020”. The short films draw upon their hopes for the future, their families and Malaysia itself.
Growing up, the generation born between 1981 and 1991 experienced the most significant shifts from the advancement of media and technology – from being raised using traditional and cultural means to adopting new ways of communication and information gathering. This has created a huge impact on their lives, their expectations and what shapes their thinking. With the emergence of mobile technology, high-speed internet and social media such as Twitter and Facebook, these passionate individuals are exposed to a vast amount of information in real time, making it difficult to keep them down and quiet. They are not afraid to question, raise concerns and speak openly and loudly about their dissatisfactions and desires. This is a seismic shift in behaviour from that of generations before, who accepted at face value decisions, control and boundaries set by the government and cultural norms, all in the name of stability for personal development, family and community. Risk-taking involved uncertainty and insecurity. No one questioned the need to rock the status quo.
In the general elections this past May, those from our participants’ generation made up around a fifth of Malaysia's 13.3 million eligible voters. The sense of activism that these young Malaysians shared was beyond political. It was about creating a voice to drive positive change and collectively pushing it for the betterment of the society we live in.
I am extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to lead this project in Malaysia – a series born out of the value of human nuances and cultural insights. Watching the videos you will be drawn in by personal thoughts, perceptions and motivations straight from the heart. Our participants and their generation continue to bridge the gap between tradition and the influence of modernity. They see themselves as game changers with an optimism and desire for change that burns from within. I will not take more away from what the videos say so I encourage you to explore these personal stories in your own time.
Words of a Generation: Malaysia is the third such series produced by Edelman following the China and Singapore editions. Each country’s series aims to capture the personal stories of people growing up in a specific time period based on the same seven topics. China and Singapore focused on the generation born in the 1970s, with India, Indonesia and Vietnam to follow. These are the voices of generations that are increasingly wanting to be heard.