GEORGE TOWN: A PKR leader has urged young professionals to get involved in politics, warning however that a political career is not about gaining power.
State executive councillor Dr Afif Bahardin said youngsters who were interested in joining politics should do so.
“I am 33. Some people say I am still young, but with (26-year-old) Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman as a minister, I feel old already,” he quipped.
Speaking to FMT, he said Pakatan Harapan (PH) strongly encouraged young professionals to get involved in politics.
“We need more young people who are well informed, knowledgeable, who are experts in certain fields to join politics.
“This is what PH has offered also. That is why you see the credentials of most of the ministers being appointed, they are more than qualified.”
Afif, who is a medical doctor, said he was also a young professional who had come through the system.
Today, he handles three different portfolios within the Penang government: health, agriculture and agro-based industry and rural development.
“Young professionals can provide the leadership with professionalism, with the integrity and the expertise we bring to the table,” he said.
Afif said he began to be active in politics at the age of 28, while he was working as a doctor.
“I have the same experience as other young Malay professionals. I have concerns about setting up a family, the concerns of getting a house, getting a car. These are issues being faced by all youngsters,” he told FMT.
However, he warned young professionals who become involved in politics against becoming “disconnected”.
“Being in politics does not mean you are in a hierarchy or have the status to push yourself into a position of luxury or power.
“You must be able to understand. The problem we have with politicians nowadays is that everyone wants to be in a position of power, but once they are in that position they do not know what to do.
“That is the problem we face. People are scrambling and fighting over positions, but when they get there, they are lost.”
The importance of education
The Shah Alam native said he had been blessed with parents who were both academics and emphasised the importance of education.
For him, education is the way to break the cycle of poverty.
“I engage a lot with schools. Previously, it was hard for us to enter schools but now in my second term as an assemblyman, it is easier. So we are looking at how to engage further, and to have more programmes.
“Education is not only about producing people who can count and write,” the Seberang Jaya assemblyman said. “Of course that is important, but what is more important is to produce human beings who can serve mankind and the community as a whole.
“It is about producing a holistic person who is independent and brave to face the world.”
Afif has set up a library called Rumah Buku in his constituency, along with tuition centres and preparatory classrooms in under-utilised community halls.
He said these provided spaces for the urban poor or those in villages to study or do their homework.
“By having such classes, they can do their homework and study, and excel in their examinations.”
Education aside, Afif also faces the challenge of improving the livelihoods of those in Penang, with a focus on the rural areas.
He said he wanted the youth to be independent, enterprising and able to fend for themselves.
“Penang is a booming state, (soon) to become an international city. My philosophy is that no one should be left out. There is no point having development in George Town, Batu Kawan and Bayan Baru if people are left out.
“We have to prepare everyone. We have excellent youngsters, graduates from universities with good qualifications, but there are also those who cannot go to university but have the determination to improve their lives. How do we cater to these people?
“That is where I think I played a role, by providing microcredit training and ideas on how to elevate the youth to be as independent and progressive as in urban areas like George Town and Seberang Jaya.”