Give way to younger blood to take over the reins, youth bodies’ leadership urged

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, July 4: The old guard of youth organisations should make way for their younger counterparts to have a bigger role in leadership.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said the older, experienced leaders should play a more advisory role to complement young, fresh leadership in any youth organisation rather than limiting their chances.

He cited the Sarawak National Youth Organisation (Saberkas), where the current president and deputy president — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and the state youth and sports minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah — are 70 and 59 years old respectively.

The Democratic Action Party (DAP) lawmaker urged both Abang Johari and Abdul Karim to pass on their respective leadership role in Saberkas to younger Sarawakian leaders and give them the confidence and opportunity to lead the organisation.

Dr Yii was responding to Abdul Karim, who said that Sarawak’s definition of “youth” will be maintained at the age range of 15 to 40-years-old, when commenting on the proposed amendment Bill to lower the age to define “youths” from 40 to 30.


The minister said that the country should not lower the age limit to mirror that of western countries, pointing out that the country could not adopt in toto, the outlook of western countries.

“Even in a big organisation such as Saberkas, with 130,000 members, it is impossible to say they cannot find any suitable and competent leadership among young Sarawakians to take those higher leadership roles,” Dr Yii said in a statement today.

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman on Monday, tabled the amendment Bill that proposed the definition of “youths” being under 30, as set out in the Malaysian Youth Policy and in line with international standards.

Section 2 of the current Youth Societies and Youth Development Act 2007 defines “youth” as a person aged between 15 and 40.

Dr Yii expressed disappointment that the state will not follow the federal government’s intention to lower the age group definition of youth from 15 to 30 years, to give most chance and platform to the younger leaders to excel.

“Some of our youth in general may lack exposure, but that does not mean we are less mature or lack the knowledge-learning abilities of those in the West.

“Such moves to give more chances to youth to take leadership will then give greater exposure and expedite the maturity process which will only be good in a long term for our state and country,” he said.

Dr Yii added that many Asian countries have adopted such definition of youth (aged 15-30) including Sri Lanka, Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, India and Vietnam.

“The approach taken by the federal government is in line with our intention to empower the young people in our country on top of ensuring the continuity of our country’s leadership, and expedite the youth maturity process.

“Allowing our youths to take leadership roles at a younger age gives them an opportunity to grow, learn more about responsibilities, as well as give fresh and good critical ideas into government policies that affects them,” he continued. — DayakDaily