Ex-senators pan lowering age requirement for Dewan Negara

Former senator Loga Bala Mohan says the Dewan Negara is meant to be a check-and-balance for the Dewan Rakyat. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Two former senators have opposed the idea of lowering the minimum required age to become a member of the Dewan Negara.

The proposal was put forth by Federal Territories PKR Youth which suggested that the minimum age be lowered to 30 to allow more engagement with youth in policy formation.

MyPPP’s Loga Bala Mohan, who was a senator for two terms from 2013 to 2019, said the Dewan Negara comprised mostly professionals and seasoned politicians.

He said the age requirement was put in place as the job requires “wisdom and credibility”.

“The Senate is a check-and-balance for the Dewan Rakyat, so usually senators are made up of these (groups of people) to help the government make decisions and support their goals,” he said.

“Calling for more youth to join the Senate is good, but not too many.”

When asked about the Cabinet appointment of Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, the country’s youngest ever minister at 26, Loga said such leaders were “too young” and might not be able to do much good in legislative decisions.

Former MCA vice-president Gan Ping Sieu, who was a senator from 2010 to 2013, agreed, saying senators have the big task of representing states’ interests.

“Age should not be the real concern in appointments,” he said, adding that there should be no “quota” reserved for young candidates, either.

“It should be a test of who is fit and proper for the job, not a test of age criteria.”

Those looking to qualify as a Senate candidate must be Malaysian, at least 30 and living in the federation. He or she cannot have received a prison sentence of a year or more, or a fine of RM2,000 or more, or owe allegiance to a foreign state.

DAP’s Adrian Banie Lasimbang, who was appointed as a senator last year, said he supports the proposal to lower the Senate’s minimum age requirement if it is done in phases.

“It has to be gradually done depending on how we reform our education system,” he said, adding that many youth are not yet politically mature.

He added that both the Dewan Negara and the Dewan Rakyat should be represented by the younger generation as well.

“There are so many technological developments that old-school people may not be able to catch on or understand. Our Gen-Y worldview has to be understood,” Adrian, 42, said.

He suggested that the minimum age requirement be lowered to 25, with the candidate holding a university degree and having work experience.