WHEN the news broke last week that Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat was stepping aside for a younger person to become the future prime minister, I remember thinking, “Most Malaysian politicians will never do something like that!”
While this is a bitter pill to swallow, most might actually agree to that statement. But to recap, DPM Heng has taken himself out of the running to become the country’s next leader, two-and-a-half years after emerging as the frontrunner to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
DPM Heng said that he would have too short of a runway, given that he would be near his mid-60s when he takes over as prime minister after the COVID-19 crisis is over. In other words, he is stepping aside to let someone younger have a chance at running the country.
In comparison, most Malaysian politicians would rather cling on tight to their positions of power than relinquish them to younger and more capable leaders.
Be it disgraced party leaders who are saddled with multiple criminal charges, or ‘retired’ politicians in their 90s who had only returned to politics for the ‘sake of the people and country’, the one thing that they all have in common is their advanced age.
It was once pointed out that in Malaysia, the average age of ministers in the current cabinet is 57 years and that there is no youth presence in Parliament, and to be honest, nobody familiar with Malaysian politics would be surprised.
So here’s a question: isn’t there anyone younger and more capable for the job? More importantly, where did all our young‘uns go?
The ugly truth is, they have been held back by their older counterparts. From the delay of UNDI18 that would deny the rights for youth to vote in the next general election to the Registrar of Society (RoS) withholding youth-led political party MUDA’s application even after six months, all actions have been taken to sideline their participation
in Malaysian politics.
This is not saying that the younger leaders have no potential because they have them in spades. It is just very unfortunate that the current leaders are not doing much to tap into this well of resources to make the country a better place.
Until this matter is taken more seriously, the country will always be overrun by over-the-hill warlords of the old regime who should have retired decades ago.
One thing that’s clear is that it is time Malaysia take a leaf out of Singapore’s book and just do better, and one way to go about this is for the old fogies in politics to make way for younger leaders to shine. – April 12, 2021
Photo credit: Rojak Daily