Age no longer a factor, says deputy to youngest minister

Steven Sim being (third from right) sworn in as deputy youth and sports minister. Sim says Malaysia should no longer be bound by the traditional concept of age. (Facebook video screengrab)

PETALING JAYA: Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim has voiced support for the plan to reduce the age limit for youth leaders to 30-35 from the present 40, saying this will allow more talented younger people to be groomed as future leaders.

“At 36, I am the youngest deputy minister in the Cabinet,” he told FMT. “But do not let the age of a person determine what he can or cannot do.”

He said the new Cabinet reflected much that people would never have thought possible, including having the oldest prime minister in the world, the country’s youngest minister and the first woman deputy prime minister.

“We also have many young faces in the Cabinet, including Yeo Bee Yin, the youngest woman minister in the Cabinet, as the energy, green technology, science, climate change and environment minister, and young deputy ministers like Hannah Yeoh and Teo Nie Ching.

“Don’t be bound by the traditional concept of age. Age should no longer be a question in this new Malaysia we are trying to shape.”

The new age limit target was announced by Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman yesterday.

Despite criticism from some who say several of the portfolios in the Cabinet do not match the candidates chosen by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Sim said the youth and sports portfolio was close to his heart.

“It has a very wide range of issues that are interrelated, including economic concerns, youth employment and social problems. Sports is an entire huge area on its own.”

He added that many of the questions he had raised in Parliament were closely related to youths and sports.

This is Sim’s second term as Bukit Mertajam MP after joining DAP 11 years ago.

He first stood for election in 2013, winning the Bukit Mertajam parliamentary seat. Prior to that, he was a Seberang Perai municipal councillor.

Since taking office as an MP, he said he had been using technology to try and improve governance and delivery to the people.

He was the man behind the introduction of a user-friendly application called “Citizen Action Technology” to help the public lodge complaints with the local authorities.

He told FMT he hoped the people would judge him by his work as an MP and deputy minister.

“There were no shortcuts to what we are today. Are we too young as ministers and deputy ministers?” he said.

“The learning curve is indeed very steep, being ‘promoted’ from being an MP to a deputy minister.

“I have been reading report after report and meeting with heads of departments with the minister since being sworn in earlier this week.”

When asked how he felt about being stationed in Kuala Lumpur now, Sim said the people of Bukit Mertajam knew how to get in touch with him if they needed his attention.

“I am a Bukit Mertajam boy. When I was sworn in, I wore my high school tie as a reminder of my origins and the people I serve,” he said.