Chong, Abdul Karim clash over age limit for youth organisation leaders

Sarawak Legislative Assembly Sitting, November 2017

KUCHING, Nov 15: Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen finally found the opportunity to question the rationale of why 69-year-old Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg can still head the Sarawak United National Youth Organisation (Saberkas).

Chong said Saberkas is a youth organisation and Abang Johari, who is almost 70-years-old, should step down as the president.

Chong, who is state DAP chairman, managed to question Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah while the latter was delivering the ministry’s winding up speech at the State Legislative Assembly today.

Abdul Karim said there was no law in the state that put an age limit on those leading a youth organisation such as Saberkas.

He said the federal Youth Societies and Youth Development Act 2007, which defines “youth” as a person not younger than 15 years and not older than 40, was not adopted by the state and thus not effective in Sarawak.


“There are some things in the Act that we (the state) do not agree with, and that’s why it is not extended to the state,” said Abdul Karim.

With no law imposing an age limit on the leadership of youth organisations, Abdul Karim said it was not wrong for Abang Johari to continue to lead Saberkas.

Abdul Karim explained that the state believed in an experienced leadership to groom young leaders, stressing that that has been Saberkas’ way.

“We have our own way of ‘grooming’ our members,” he said while rebutting Chong.

Abang Johari who has been president of Saberkas since 2009, was re-elected as Saberkas president unopposed in October.

Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub, the first president of Saberkas, started the tradition of having the Chief Minister heading the organisation.

When Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud took over the chief ministership, he was the president for 28 years before passing the baton over to Abang Johari in 2009. — DayakDaily