Malaysiakini Letter

Youth representation in cabinet a must for M'sia Baru

Aaron Denison  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | While we are still awaiting the rest of the ministerial positions in the cabinet, there has been talk about 30 percent women representation that needs to be fulfilled based on the Buku Harapan which indeed a fair argument.

In accordance with the women representation, there needs to also be youth representation in cabinet as a minister and even that has to have women representation as well.

At the moment out cabinet minister are mostly 40 and above and the two youngest male minister being Anthony Loke (41 years old) and Maszlee Malik (44 years old) whereas youngest women representation in the cabinet is Rina Harun (45 years old).

As a youth myself, I would love to see a few more ministers elected aged 35 years and below and even better those aged 30 years and below. It is about time where we move away from the narrative of “too young to be a minister” or even “we need someone experienced to run the ministry”.

Experience would come with time and opportunity because if not given the opportunity, one would not be able to gain experience. While we are now in the phase of Malaysia Baru, we should be progressive enough to give opportunities to young blood and move away from the standard narratives that the elders are more experienced to lead.

Yes indeed that the elders are well experienced to lead but youth representation are crucial this time around because almost 40 percent of the voters this time around came from the young and bold.

In most voting areas, the final “saluran” were packed with young voters who stood for hours waiting to vote. Hence as one of the 40 percent young voters, I aspire to have a youth representation in cabinet representing my voice.

We have young ministers being elected in a number of countries abroad and as a true democracy now Malaysia should leverage on that and be a part of the positive change.

In 2011, Chloe Smith became the treasury minister under David Cameron’s administration at the age of 29 years old. She was entrusted to hold such a difficult portfolio at a very young age regardless of her being criticised being too young.  

Besides that recently in 2017, Canada appointed 29-year-old Karina Gould became the youngest ever female cabinet as she was put in charge of electoral reform. Well we might hear the argument that these are all first world countries and we are still a developing country so we might not be ready to have young ministers.

But in April 2018, Botswana elected 30-year-old Bogolo Joy Kenewendo as the new investment, trade and industry, becoming the youngest cabinet minister in the country.

Her appointment was indeed celebrated and welcomed by many Africans. Close to home in Asia, Anupriya Singh Patel is one of the examples as she became the youngest minister in Narenda Modi’s cabinet at the age of 35 when she was elected in 2016.

Incredibly, all of these young leaders are mostly women and this should indeed be an inspiration in electing the remainder of the cabinet ministers in Malaysia. Among those that I am looking to represent the voice of the youth in the cabinet are:

  • Yeo Bee Yin, MP for Bakri (aged 35)
  • Mordi Bimol, MP for Mas Gading (aged 33)
  • Kelvin Yii, MP for Kuching (aged 31)
  • Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, MP for Muar (aged 26)
  • P Prabakaran, MP for Batu (aged 22)

I hope that they will be able to carry the torch for the youths in Malaysia and be considered as ministers in the new cabinet.

The representation of youths in the cabinet is no longer a need but it has now become a priority as well as a must. Let’s break the barriers and set an example in Southeast Asia.

AARON DENISON is a research assistant at Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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