The young turks

Collins tells me that a young turk is “a progressive, revolutionary, or rebellious member of an organization, political party, etc, especially one agitating for radical reform”.

Mahathir is 93. He became an MP in 1964 at age 39. He was a fierce critic of the government of Tengku Abdul Rahman and was expelled from UMNO after the 69 riots. He returned when Tun Razak took over and was made Education Minister at age 49. He became prime minister at age 56.

Anwar is 71. Anwar was already politically active in his 20s and in 1974 at age 27 he was imprisoned under ISA over the Baling issue. In 1982 he was made Youth Minister, at age 35, moving on to education, finance and then Deputy Prime Minister at age 46.

Kit Siang is 77. He followed a different path and became involved in DAP in his 20s and won his first election in 1969 (that fateful year) at age 28.

Kit Siang has never been in government but over decades as opposition he has been largely principled. Even though he and his family have on occasion suffered, even imprisoned, he has remained steadfast. For that he earned the admiration of the community and laid the foundations for a sense of justice beyond race and religion, for a sense of politics as serving the country rather than self, for a sense of integrity and accountability as the standard for administration. This I believe has attracted many who are young and idealistic.

All 3 are controversial figures, with strongly held views. And to my mind, all 3 have been agents of change in the politics of Malaysia. In their day, they were the young turks.

In my last 2 articles I have tried to evaluate where Malaysian politics stand in the light of GE14. And my conclusion is straightforward: we are right at the beginning; perhaps square two instead of square one.

Political parties revolve around race, religion and personalities which means that these are the aspects of society that politicians pay the greatest attention to. And race, religion and personalities are still the issues that move people.

We need to move on to define our vision of the society we want to evolve to in terms of our values, our idea of justice, our economic strategies, how we are going to raise standards, education, our environment; and how we can work together although we are racially, culturally and religiously different, how we can make this our strength.

As I shared in my last article, I believe change can only come through key leaders who will take on the challenge as agents of change; leaders who are able to lead, whom the community are willing to trust and follow.

That leader, or leaders, will not come from the “above 50” category. These have had their day already, I think. Our generation must let go and allow the next generation to determine the path our country should take.

Who will be the young turks who will define our future?

The following are most of the members of the current cabinet, with some notables from outside. If you want to know what position they occupy in the cabinet, here is the link. But I think if you need the link then it is unlikely they will become a mover and shaker. Hopefully there are other notables in other political parties and NGOs. I just thought this is a good place to look for our young turks.

It is to DAP’s credit that most of their key people are below 50 and they form the majority in the below 40 category. But this is Malaysia and they will need good partners who are bumiputra.

Who has the passion? Who has the heart? Who will lead us forward? Who will drain us with their selfish agenda? Who have substance? Who are just flash? Who have staying power? Who will falter?

It is not too early to pray for them because for the three I have mentioned above, they started to matter when they were in their twenties.

Above 20

Syed Saddiq is 25.

Above 30

Yeo Bee Yin is 35.
Hannah Yeoh is 39.
Gobind Singh Deo is 40.
Teo Nie Ching is 37.
Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis is 36.
Steven Sim Chee Keong is 36.
Nurul Izzah Anwar is 38.

Above 40

Maszlee is 44.
Rafizi is 41.
Darell Leiking is 47.
Anthony Loke is 41.
Rina Mohd Harun is 45.
Liew Chin Tong is 41.
Ong Kian Ming is 43.
Tony Pua is 46.
Sim Tze Tzin is 42.
Chong Chieng Jen is 47.
Shamsul Iskandar Md. Akin is 43.
Eddin Syazlee Shith is 44.
Marzuki Yahya is about 48.
Zulpuri Shah Raja Puji is 46.
Mohd. Azis Jamman is 44.

Above 50

Guan Eng is 58.
Muhyiddin is 71.
Mujahid is 54.
Waytha is 52.
Kula is 61.
Mohamad Sabu is 64.
Mohamaddin Ketapi is 61.
Saifuddin Abdullah is 57
Saifuddin Nasution is 55.
Xavier Jayakumar is about 65.
Khalid is 61.
Salahuddin Ayub is 57.
Dzulkefly Ahmad is 62.
Mohammadin Ketapi is 61.
Zuraida Kamaruddin is 60.
Mohd. Redzuan Md. Yusof is 61.
Baru Bian is 60.
Teresa Kok Suh Sim is 54.
Mohd Hatta Md Ramli is 62.
Sivarasa Rasiah is 62.
Mohd Anuar Mohd Tahir is about 66.
Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad is 63.
Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik is 53.
Lee Boon Chye is 59.
Kamarudin Jaffar is 67.
Amiruddin Hamzah is 56.
Fuziah Salleh is 59.
Liew Vui Keong is 58.
Mohamed Azmin Ali is 54.

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