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“Malaysian Politicians Wanted: Must Be 40 Years Old With 50 Years Of Experience” [OPINION]

“Malaysian Politicians Wanted: Must Be 40 Years Old With 50 Years Of Experience” [OPINION]

MUDA’s candidates have been unfairly criticised for throwing their hat into the ring.

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Can we not be so ruthlessly critical of new parties, young people, and women entering politics?

Ever since MUDA started publishing bios of their candidates for the upcoming State Elections, critics have replied with “Is that all you’ve accomplished?” and “Is this the level of candidates from this party?”

There are even some people who also criticize their lack of work experience.

“We don’t want career politicians,” they say cry, even though a career politician is our current Prime Minister.

Honestly, what are people expecting from our youth? Should we require every candidate to be 50 years old with at least 60 years of experience?

Let’s take a moment and look at the pinnacle of Malaysian politics: Parliament.

Following GE15, the median age of Malaysian MPs is 52.4 years

After Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah failed to defend their seats in the last GE, there are no nonagenarians and octogenarians in Parliament at the moment.

The oldest current MP is 77-year-old Datuk Henry Sum Agong of Lawas who is among 137 or 61.7% of 222 MPs who are above the age of 50.

Only 84 MPs or 37.8% are below 50 years old. Only 11 MPs or 4.95% are 35 years old or younger and only 2 or 0.9% are below 30.

The youngest is 27-year-old Dr Mohammed Taufiq Johari of Sungai Petani who is just a month younger than P. Prabakaran of Batu, while Muar’s Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman is 30 years old.

What is worse is there are only 30 women compared to 192 men. That’s 13.5% female representation even though, in Malaysia, women have surpassed men when it comes to being educated.

When we compare all of this to GE15 voters, only around 32% are above 50, and roughly 39% are below 35 years of age. Additionally, while men do outnumber women in Malaysia, as of 2022 the ratio is only around 110 men per 100 women.

That’s Parliament. This is State Elections…

Why are we looking at Parliament when discussing State Election candidates? It’s because so many MPs are former assemblymen that many consider it a prerequisite.

It’s clear that young people are underrepresented in Parliament and we’ll never lower the average age of our MPs if we keep high the barriers to entry for them at even the State level.

Some people might argue and say that’s a good thing, and that only experienced people should be allowed to debate on matters of policymaking.

I disagree as 18-year-olds are already allowed to vote in elections and we can clearly see by the race and religion baiting of our elder politicians; wisdom and maturity do not always come with age.

Young people are idealistic and lack experience, but that is the blessing of youth and the exact reason we need more young people in politics.

They aren’t limited by the knowledge of “what can or cannot be done”. They haven’t been beaten down into doing things “the way we’ve always done them”. They aren’t weighed down with failure and their closets are too new to have skeletons.

Not only that, but they also have a lot more energy than 90-year-old “racists” or 70-year-old “genius” tacticians and are far more likely to have the time and ability to grow and mature.

If anything, we should be encouraging people, especially younger people and women, to be involved in politics and take part in shaping the future of their country.

Furthermore, some might argue that MUDA is spoiling the election by running against PH/BN.

But what other avenue do young people have to enter politics when these old parties are plagued by issues of seniority and demand that young or new members “pay their dues” instead of fielding candidates based on merit?

Really, it’s not MUDA and its candidates that need to grow up. It’s everyone else.

Hamzah Nazari is the Head of Editorial for TRP.

All opinions expressed here are his and do not necessarily reflect the stand of TRP.

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