The new one is the most beautiful of all; he is so young and pretty. And the old swans bowed their heads before him.– (The Ugly Duckling) Hans Christian Andersen, Danish author
Against all headlines in the newsreel in the past weekend, one stood out from the rest.
New Sarawak Tribune reported it with the headline: “Syed Hamzah win heralds new chapter”.
Astro Awani reported, “Pintu PBB kini terbuka kepada belia, medan bincang aspirasi anak muda” which loosely translates to “PBB’s doors are now open to youths, a platform to discuss their aspirations”.
While TVS, reported, “Syed Hamzah Ahli MT Sayap Bumiputera PBB termuda”, which means, “Syed Hamzah the youngest PBB Bumiputera Supreme Council member”.
In essence, the feat of the 37-year-old in securing a seat in the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Supreme Council had not gone unnoticed.
He is in fact, the youngest elected to the policymaking body of the party and has a say about how the party, and by extension, the state government is run.
It is not only setting a new record, but also highlight’s the trust of party members in the younger generation.
Of course, they would be many who would downplay this feat given that there are other political parties which are made up of youths who are then given a meteoric rise within the ranks.
But I would argue that the other parties do not have the stature of PBB, they don’t amass a number of elected representatives, that they, by themselves could form a government alone with.
More importantly, they do not provide the stability that PBB does – and I think that is noteworthy.
I had written in the past that the rank-and-file culture of this very party as well as its presence and support among the grassroots are factors contributing towards their strength.
To be someone who is a glaring example of bypassing the rank-and-file convention is definitely something.
Just two days before voting for the PBB Supreme Council took place, there were grouses among certain members of Syed Hamzah’s decision to contest.
Their argument was that he was too young – too inexperienced and went against party tradition.
They viewed that it is better that someone starts from the bottom, in this case, in the Pemuda (Youth) wing before moving up the ranks.
But apparently, this view was not echoed by other party members – as they did elect him into the Supreme Council.
In a statement following his victory, Syed Hamzah took note of this. He was not oblivious to allegations by his peers that he might be going “against the flow”.
“I hope that my presence in the Supreme Council will give a positive image to PBB as it shows that the delegates are very open to a young new candidate.
“Certainly, the youths out there are watching this development, especially when our party is in the process of setting up a special wing for youths soon.”
On the same day, the PBB amended its constitution to accommodate a new wing.
This new wing caters to members aged 18 to 28 which was well received by the youths and bodes well for the party’s image.
Syed Hamzah continued: “The perception of young people finding it difficult to get a place in PBB is now proving to be untrue.
“We managed to prove this time that the PBB has young people who are in the ranks of its Supreme Council members,” he added.
I think this is the right step forward for the party as well as its leadership to make way for the young – putting their money where their mouth is.
All this while, there has been this perception that PBB is a party for the old – that is no longer the case.
Although I hope that in the future, we will see more young leaders stepping into the fray – that is the PBB leadership, it is a good first step.
As I have written in this column before, the aspiring young leaders in Sarawak, regardless of political parties, need to be mature in terms of understanding the policies, approaches and more importantly, the challenges faced by the government.
It is easy to complain and lament – but to do something about it and crucially, take responsibility, is a different ball game.
That being said, we are moving towards a new era – an era which youths are recognised for their maturity, nuance and leadership skills.
The door is now open; the balls are in the youth’s court.