It was in January this year – on the back of a landslide Sarawak State Election win – Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s (GPS) backbone party, the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), made a decision to tread unchartered waters.
This was by setting up another wing – this time for members aged 18 to 28 – complementing the existing two wings – the Youth and Women wings.
Being someone who often writes about the importance of youth representation in government in line with moving times, I myself thought, it was about time.
I had, since my weekly column started last two years, argued my case and even sometimes getting myself in hot soup due to it.
I couldn’t for the life of me figure out, as to why this particular subject is unsettling to some as it was one of the issues that was severely exploited by those in the opposition in the last Sarawak state election.
They (the opposition) alleged that the GPS, in holding the state election at the tail end of last year, had done such out of fear of the implementation of Undi18 which was supposed to come into effect this year.
This was before a court order was issued for Undi18 to be implemented in the same election month.
While it was a cheap ploy by the opposition to harp on the issue leading to the election, the perception is that, the parties that make up the government are not really known for their youth prowess and representation.
I had mentioned this in an earlier column some two years ago. It was a bitter pill to swallow, I guess.
Sure enough, one faithful day, the powers that be summoned me to offer my views and assist in the formation of the new PBB wing – I couldn’t be more enthused.
The committee for the setting up of the wing which called itself PBB1828 had, to my observation, covered all grounds – treading the political waters – holding numerous engagement sessions with those of various backgrounds.
I had the chance to participate in some of the activities and I had listened to these local youths speak their mind, express their views about the government, it was reassuring that they are not cut from the same cloth as their Malayan counterparts.
What do I mean by that? In Sarawak, the youths – at least the ones I’ve met – are in favour of better policies to benefit the local community as well as the development of the state.
What they wanted is for their voices to be heard and have their own representation at both the party and government levels.
They fully understood the vision of the state government in realising Sarawak’s dream to be a developed state come 2030.
Jostling for power isn’t their prime concern – it was Sarawak First, in the truest of sense.
Being in the same age group, I would frequent social media and the newsreel. The youths across the South China Sea, at least the most vocal ones, are all for endless reforms – even if they couldn’t define what reform means.
That gives you a good sense of their political maturity and understanding.
It is blind faith and loyalty towards Malayan opposition parties who would often dangle carrots in front of them in the hope of getting their support without even knowing how to fulfil their promises.
They would say anything to get the support of the youths – as the membership numbers matter, at least it is when printed in the papers, but then again, what did they do to serve this age group?
It was the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government of old which was voted into power in the last general election (GE14). By who? I like to think that it was the first-time young voters.
But one false promise after another, the wind has shifted. Pakatan isn’t the choice of the youths – not anymore.
In essence, the new wing will play a large part in the party’s direction moving forward. The onus is on the rest of the party to accommodate the new members.
The youths were part of the large number of voters who backed PBB and GPS in the last state polls. The party and the government have earned their trust.
They are mature and they know that this is the government for them, and for all Sarawakians. The party, in its own way, must reciprocate.
It is time to chart a new future – a refreshed and youthful PBB.