Challenges ahead in bid to attract young members

  • Nation
  • Monday, 02 Dec 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: After successfully amending its party constitution to lower the minimum age of its members from 18 to 16, MCA is now facing a challenge to attract this group who are still students.

In view of this, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said the government would have the edge in recruiting young members as it had better access to schools.

Citing his own experience since becoming part of the Opposition over a year ago, the Ayer Hitam MP said invitations for him from schools had come to almost zero compared to previously when up to 28 schools would invite him to open their parent-teacher association meetings.

“This is a challenge to all parties from both sides of the divide.

“However, the government will have the edge as they can make use of their position to conduct activities at schools and utilise the opportunity to approach the students.

“Opposition leaders will face greater limitations, especially when Education Minister (Dr) Maszlee Malik is still evasive in Parliament on whether Opposition leaders are allowed in schools, ” he told reporters after the 66th MCA Annual General Meeting at Wisma MCA yesterday.

However, Dr Wee said he fully understood the dilemma faced by schools in having to obtain permission from the education authorities on who to invite for their programmes or activities.

“The Education Department’s guidelines state that priority is given to ministers, deputy ministers, secretaries-general and the Education director-general, ” he said.

MCA Youth, he added, would buck up its efforts to attract young members, which was also in line with the government’s lowering of the voting age from 21 to 18.

To a question, Dr Wee said the appropriate time for MCA to officially accept members as young as 16 would depend on how fast the Registrar of Societies approved their amendments to the party constitution.

A total of 1,499 out of 2,524 delegates (59.3%) nationwide voted and passed 21 resolutions, which touched on party affairs, politics, government, economy and education issues.

Among these were for a push in the implementation of local council elections, which Pakatan Harapan had pledged to restore by 2021.

The resolutions also criticised the Education Ministry for including the teaching of Jawi calligraphy in vernacular schools’ Primary Four syllabus without considering the strong objections from the Chinese and Indian communities as well as for sidelining the school boards.

These also called for the government to reinstate the allocation for the Tunku Abdul Rahman University College’s operating expenses instead of its current plan of channelling funds through a trust fund to be set up for the TARCian Alumni Association.

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