ELSON: No, that young lady above isn’t the PAP’s newest (and chioest) member.
She’s Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysia’s Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change. She’s only 35 years old.
Yeo aside, there’s also 25-year-old Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman. And those are just some of the young ministers from our neighbour up north, not including other youth waiting in the wings.
Malaysia might have an old pak cik as PM, 93-year-old Dr Mahathir, but there’s no doubt that the country is headed in the right direction when the government ropes in youth to contribute and build on its vision for a Malaysia of the future.
Looking further, other nations are leading the charge for youth to take the reins – French President Emmanuel Macron was 39 years old when he took office. And then there’s the 47-year-old Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.
In Singapore, the late Lee Kuan Yew was elected Prime Minister at 35 years old.
See what he did with Singapore.
What has happened to us since then?
Only youth will be able understand the concerns, hopes and desires of young people and with that, build a future with them in mind. And only young leaders will be able to connect with them and serve as aspirational role models for others to step up and be counted in nation-building.
Besides, how will old folks run the country well if they can hardly grasp or keep up with the latest disruptive trends in the world? Also, how can any political party that doesn’t have someone under 40 in its Central Executive Committee claim that it understands young voters and will champion their cause?
For Singapore today, the future doesn’t seem that bright – it looks like we’re doomed to be run by a bunch of old fogies who will never be able to keep up with the pace of change.
Old folks trying to maintain their grip on power and run the show when they should be relegated to dinosaur status by now, with an even older Emeritus Senior Minister trying to push them to hand over power to the next generation – strange world isn’t it?
Most of the PAP’s Central Executive Committee members are over 50 years old. Our PM-in-Waiting Heng Swee Keat is 57 now (so we hope he doesn’t have too long to wait otherwise moss will grow). Almost everyone else on the CEC is above 50 years old.
Lao chio Josephine Teo is already 50, and the other 2 lao-but-not-chios Indranee Rajah and Grace Fu are already 55.
The youngest “4G leaders” we have are all over the age of 42.
By the time they become leaders, they’ll be just as pre-historic as the current PAP crop – and we’ve all seen how this current crop is always slow to keep up with global trends.
Progress Singapore Party
A party that constantly emphasizes its aim of building the future of Singapore must have youth in mind.
But this is the CEC line-up for Dr Tan Cheng Bock’s Progress Singapore Party.
Dr Tan Cheng Bock, 78, secretary-general
Anthony Lee, 39, assistant secretary-general
Wang Swee Chuan, 68, chairman
G K Singam, 81, vice-chairman
S Nallakaruppan, in his 50s, party treasurer
Kassim Syed Mohamed, a retiree in his 60s
The shining light here is new member Michelle Lee, 41, formerly from the SDP. But we don’t know whether she’ll get a meatier role in the PSP because she’s a young rose among the old uncles.
At least for now, the PSP has Anthony Lee as second-in-command. But with democratic decision-making processes in place (we hope), how will his ideas be received by the rest of the uncles, much less approved and implemented?
And then there’s the Workers’ Party – the only opposition currently in parliament.
The old fox Low Thia Khiang was serious about leadership renewal when he named 42-year-old Pritam Singh as his successor.
But what about the rest? Almost everyone else in the WP’s CEC is on the wrong side of 40.
The youngest members of the CEC are Gerald Giam and Lee Li Lian – Giam is no longer a NMP, with the WP choosing to put up uncle Dennis in his place.
And Lee Li Lian has just taken a bow from parliament after she got booted from Punggol-East SMC.
It looks like the WP is more keen on pushing seniors to the fore rather than drawing on fresher, younger blood to boost its decision-making ranks.
Singapore Democratic Party
The only party to have a CEC member below 40.
That chap up there is Jufri Salim (when he was a young man and now), who rose from the ranks of the SDP youth and is now 36 years old.
Even Bryan Lim, once the SDP’s youngest ever candidate when he stood in the Hong Kah GRC in the 2001 General Elections, is now 43 years old.
Everyone else in the Singapore Democrats CEC is either on the wrong side of 50 or edging it.
Don’t say that there’s no worthy or qualified person under 30 who can make it to the CEC of a political party – Singapore has always prided itself on talented Singaporeans being our greatest resource.
But to date, the PAP has mostly old uncles and aunties, the WP has pushed up old uncles in place of younger members and the PSP is a party controlled by old uncles.
The SDP with the only shot of giving Singapore one MP under the age of 40, but unfortunately his previous record of having served jail time might not work well in his favour.
As army boys like to say, “lan lan suck thumb” and let the old Hokkien peng take the lead lah, even if he doesn’t know where he’s going or how to use that new satellite compass invented by someone half his age.