Are we ready for young politicians yet?

The young people of Malaysia achieved greater heights during the 2018 general elections. By coming out in a record number to participate in the electoral process, a youngest ever Member of Parliament was elected. Prabakaran Parameswaran, the MP for Batu was elected at 22 years old.

Subsequently, the Government appointed the youngest ever Cabinet member, Syed Saddiq as the Minister of Youth and Sports at 25 years old then.

With younger politicians coming up, means that there are certain senior politicians that would have to make way. Although we have relatively younger people at helm in the political arena after 2018, is Malaysia really ready for younger politicians to lead the country?

When the current Parliament seating begins last 13 July, the young MP, Syed Saddiq stands up to debate on the issue of the new appointment of the Dewan Rakyat’s speaker.

Unfortunately, some of the so-called ‘experienced’ and ‘senior’ MPs interrupted his speech rudely.

“Yang Berhormat Muar lompat pagarlah.”

“Cucu, cucu. Cucu hendak cakap.”

“Tanya atuk kenapa letak jawatan. Bagi cucu mencelah.”

“Yang Berhormat Muar, sudahlah. Mengarutlah Yang Berhormat Muar.”

These are the words that were used to interrupt Yang Berhormat Muar, Syed Saddiq when he was trying to present his case on that specific issue.

There are the words uttered by people who were already MP for more than a decade, some are even former Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

We are glad that Syed Saddiq remained calm and debated with a professional manner, without even responding to the childish criticisms.

In early July, before the Parliament begins, a group of youth organised a ‘Digital Parliament’ which sees 222 young Malaysians went online for two days to debate on economic and education that affects the youth. 

On the first day, the ‘young members of parliament’ had touched on a wide range of ideas relating to the economic issues, specifically about the digital economy and the need to raise digital literacy. Discussion on the second day was focused on digitalizing education, with emphasis on strategies to enhance accessibility to Malaysians from the B40 (bottom 40 percent) communities, young people living with disabilities as well as young migrants, stateless children, and other vulnerable communities.

The proceedings went smoothly and debated with full maturity. To be exact, the way they present and debate is far better than some of the real MPs out there. 

These are the words used by the current MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, even some of the younger ones, which was influenced by the negative political culture.

“Tak ada maruah, tak ada maruah.”


“Kalau tidak puas hati, keluarlah.”

“Jadi barua macam ini.”

“Speaker haram.”

“Gelap, tak nampaklah.”

To make our point clear or be heard, I can accept that we have to be funny and sarcastic at times during debating, but childish and hurtful words are totally unacceptable.

If all 222 MPs in the Dewan Rakyat were to debate professionally like those young people in the Digital Parliament, I am sure Government matters would be implemented more efficiently and effectively. 

But unfortunately, I don’t think all Malaysians are ready to elect younger politicians yet. It is not about any individual Malaysians not agreeing to it, but the political system and culture has yet to push for younger ones to be elected. It takes time and more effort to make it a reality.

Afterall, the median age of the Malaysian MPs when they were elected in 2018 was 55.5 years old.

I wanted to prove that we can make younger people to lead, and younger people are indeed able to lead. Who’s with it?

This article is published in Kwong Wah Yit Poh in Chinese dated 28 July 2020.