KUALA LUMPUR: While royals are free to share their opinion on administrative and policy matters, they should leave decision-making to the state governments, Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Wednesday (Jul 10).
His comments came after the Johor state government flip-flopped on whether it would adhere to the newly revised maximum age limit of 30 years old for youths, as passed in the parliament last week.
At first, the state said it would disregard the new national age ceiling and keep the cap at 40 years old, but later said it welcomed the new definition of youth.
On Tuesday it changed its stance again, with Johor Youth, Sports, Entrepreneurship Development and Cooperatives Committee Chairman Sheikh Umar Bagharib Ali saying that the state would revert to its original stand that youths should refer to those below 40 years old, following “further discussion and advice from several parties”.
A photo of Johor Chief Minister Sahruddin Jamal and Mr Sheik Umar meeting Johor Crown Prince Tuanku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim fuelled talks that the latest about-turn was caused by royal interference.
“It is hoped that the palace will not interfere. They can provide their views, but it is best to pave the way for uniform policies with other states,” Mr Muhyiddin was quoted as saying by the Malaysian Insight at parliament on Wednesday.
Mr Muhyiddin, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Pagoh, a constituency in Johor, said he was confused over what was happening in Johor as the issue of the age ceiling for youths was discussed at length in the parliament and agreed by all Johor MPs.
He asked the Johor state government to clarify the matter.
“If need be, the youth and sports minister can request an audience with the Johor sultan to explain the matter,” he said.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, meanwhile, said the government would study the impact of the Johor state government’s decision.
“We want to look into the impact of the action and why it has done so. We do not know the details of the action of the Johor government,” he told reporters.
Besides Johor, the state governments of Selangor and Pahang had said that they would maintain the age cap of youths at 40.
YOUTH GROUPS DISAGREE WITH NEW AGE CEILING
The Bill to lower the national age ceiling for youths from 40 to 30 was tabled by Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.
An explanatory statement that accompanied the Bill stated that the amendment is aimed at reducing the generation gap, accelerating the process of youth maturity and reducing risky behaviour in youth groups.
With the amendment to the Youth Societies and Youth Development Act, leadership of youth societies nationwide would be affected as office bearers must be under the age of 30 when appointed.
The amendment has prompted youth groups to decry the drastic reduction of the age ceiling.
The Malaysian Youth Council, in a statement, said youths should be defined as those aged between 15 and 35 for a smooth and voluntarily power transition, instead of causing the “death” of youth organisations.