Saving Malaysia from old men

JULY 15 — Perlis has become the second state after Sabah to lower the voting age to 18.

It is a move long overdue for the rest of the country because it is clear we have been held hostage for far too long, by the whims of politicians who should have retired decades ago.

Not that I want to be ageist. Being old does not make you an inessential member of society and it is vital we give them the space to have their voices heard.

Unfortunately our politics is overrun by over-the-hill, chauvinistic and frankly uncouth (as we witnessed yesterday at Parliament) old men.

The time has long passed when the condescending antics of such people were accepted as the norm.

It pains me to say that the culture of seniority is likely one reason for Malaysia not reaching its potential — the young are not given opportunities, expected to wait for their turn.

This custom is at odds with how the world works now. The giants of tech did not wait until they were middle-aged to change how the world operates.

Our former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir may be sharp for his age and perhaps even sharper than many in his party who are younger, but even he has not moved with the times.

The same things he championed decades ago, he champions now. Instead of creating a new playbook, again he turns to his mainstays of a national car and looking East or to be precise, Japan.

Yet the Japan he once admired is not the Japan of the 21st century. Japan's websites look like they were designed in the early 90s and its society stubbornly refuses to embrace cashless payments as a norm.

Japan is no longer the bastion of innovation it once was and now struggles with the challenges of a mostly ageing  population and younger people who have grown disillusioned with life's struggles.

Must we also saddle our young with the interminable drudgery of struggling to make ends meet and being told they must give way to their elders, even if the latter are incompetent?

I am not saying we must replace all our sitting politicians with young people though seeing how Parlimen Digital was conducted, it doesn't actually seem like a terrible idea.

Politics in Malaysia lacks diversity. We have taken affirmative action to ridiculous lengths — giving the majority race priority in everything, while forgetting ours is a multicultural society, and that the other races are not mere window dressing for Tourism Malaysia commercials.

We need more women in politics; women who craft policy and are not glorified cheerleaders and tukang bancuh air (servers) as in Umno's Wanita and Puteri wings.

We need a diverse age range in Malaysian politics, and as Syed Saddiq demonstrated perhaps it is time we let young people head the Ministry of Youth and Sports instead of middle-aged fogeys.

I want a Parliament where we don't see old men yelling at each other or telling women to powder their noses.

Where men would not even think of making loutish remarks about skin colour or menstrual cycles or at least, have a Speaker who would immediately oust them for such remarks.

In short, if we need to save Malaysia from anything, it's old men. Not gays. Not transsexuals. Not Western culture. Not human rights.

Save Malaysia from old men because I sure as heck do not want our dreams and aspirations to die with them.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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