Sunday, September 19

We’re youths till 40, says Karim

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Saberkas No. 2 disagrees with proposed amendment Bill to lower age of youth to 30

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

KUCHING: Sarawak’s definition of ‘youth’ will maintain the age range of 15 to 40 years old, says Sarawak United National Youth Organisation (Saberkas) deputy president Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

Commenting on the proposed amendment Bill tabled in Parliament on Monday to lower the age to define ‘youths’ from 40 to 30, he told The Borneo Post yesterday that the country should not lower the age limit to mirror that of western countries.

“Personally, I am not agreeable to the proposed amendment to lower the age of ‘youths’ to 30 and below, from the present maximum age of 40.

“We cannot adopt in toto whatever the western countries believe in and that their outlook to be applicable to us,” said Abdul Karim, who is also Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports.

Federal Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman on Monday tabled the amendment Bill which proposed that 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.

Abdul Karim pointed out that in western countries, an 18-year-old is regarded as an adult and many have left home to start a life of their own.

“But in Asian societies, we are slightly different in a sense that a lot of youths will stay with their parents well into their thirties and even when they are married,” he explained.

He said Syed Saddiq can propose and adopt the western outlook on what age defines youth, but Sarawak will maintain its present definition of ‘youth’.

Surai Abel

Meanwhile, Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) Youth secretary Surai Abel commented that Syed Saddiq might have taken a simplistic view on the definition of ‘youth’ by defining it based solely on age.

“In politics, be it for a political party or for a non-governmental organisation (NGO), the youth groups are those earmarked as the next echelon group of leaders of respective organisations.”

He said SDNU Youth, which was officially registered with the Registrar of Societies (RoS) in 2015, has insisted that its chairman be of any age but that registered members must be below 45 years old.

“SDNU’s constitution is in fact silent on the age limit of its Youth Wing members, but a common understanding has been put in place that members at central and branch level be below the age of 45,” he said, adding that it was also agreed that only the NGO’s central youth chairman be of any age.

However, he stressed that SDNU will respect the law of the land, saying: “If the law on youth matters is passed by Parliament, then all have to abide by it.”

He added that he is not against the proposed age limit and supports the need for youths to be more mature in their thinking and personality, particularly when given roles and responsibility in any organisation.

Michael Tiang

Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Youth chief Michael Tiang, while agreeing with the proposed amendment Bill to set a new age definition for youths throughout the country, said he hoped the Ministry of Youth and Sports will implement more focused strategies and programmes in nurturing, strengthening and preparing the nation’s youths, to enable them to be the new rising force and hope in nation building.

“However, I urged the ministry not to implement the new policy in a hurried manner without first consulting youth organisations nationwide,” he said, adding that the ministry must also have detailed plans to assist these youth organisations in dealing with the transition to the major change in policy in respect of their existing membership, programmes and organisational structures, so as to avoid any more confusions and frustration among these organisations.

He also suggested for the Ministry of Youth and Sports to create a channel for effective communication with youth organisations and to receive their feedback with an open mind.