PETALING JAYA: DAP's Youth wing (Dapsy) is in discussions to lower its membership age limit from 35 to 30, following Putrajaya's new definition of youth as being from the ages of 15 to 30.
Youth chief Howard Lee (pic) said the party is holding preliminary discussions on the feasibility, mechanism and the impact of the move.
Lee, 36, told The Star that Putrajaya's transition from 40 to 30 does not affect political parties as they are not registered under the Registrar of Youth Society, but he sees the value for Dapsy to follow suit.
"Transitioning to 30 isn't really that radical to be honest, there are some member parties in the International Union of Socialist Youth whose definition of youth is 26 and below," Lee said, adding that Dapsy is a member of the union.
He said while most Dapsy members are in support of reducing the age limit to 30, there have been some push back and concerns.
Lee said he is in support of the move as the challenges during the transition phase is a minor setback for the survival and rejuvenation of Dapsy.
The Pasir Pinji assemblyman said DAP has been embarking on the direction to encourage younger leaders over the past six years.
In 2012, former Dapsy chief Anthony Loke made an amendment to the Youth wing's constitution to lower the age limit of members from 40 to 35.
Lee said the transition period for members to accept a younger leader was "painful".
"But after that initial pain, reinvigoration came through an urgency to push new blood up to positions of leadership," said Lee.
"Not only did Dapsy come back from strength to strength despite huge resistance from the grassroots, we are the first Dapsy that is in government at both the federal and state level," he added.
On the amendment to lower the voting age and election candidates' age to 18, Lee said this will widen the talent pool for Dapsy to maximise the party's growth.
"I hope there will be a new-found injection of vigour and enthusiasm from these new 18-year-olds in the leadership talent pool," he said.
Lee, who is also Perak exco for youth, sports and human capital development, said the move to "return" the voting rights to those aged 18 to 21 was a long time coming.
"If we were to look at any Malaysian who is 18, he or she is allowed to serve the nation by enlisting in the uniformed forces.
"The law allows them to defend their country but does not allow them to vote or choose the party who will rule the country and set policy directions," he said.
He said it was "disrespectful" for detractors to assume that those aged 18 have low political literary and thus should not be allowed to vote.
"There is no empirical evidence to show that an 18-year-old is less matured politically, less literate politically than someone who is 35," he said.
"The political maturity and literacy argument is shallow and unfounded and it is disrespectful to assume that maturity is based on age," he said.