Younger leaders in Cabinet a refreshing sight, says Undi Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: The appointment of two young leaders as ministers in the new Cabinet is hoped to bring about forward-thinking and fresh ideas for the state and country, says a non-governmental movement.

Undi Sabah coordinator Fiqah Roslan (pic), 27, said it was refreshing to see younger elected representatives holding ministerial portfolios.

She said Sabah's Datuk Ewon Benedick and Datuk Armizan Ali were among the youngest in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's Cabinet.

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“As co-coordinator of a campaign to empower youth through democracy called Undi Sabah, I hope this sets a positive precedent to nurture young talent in preparation for leadership,” she said here Sunday (Dec 4).

Fiqah said the 15th General Election showed that new voters were indeed invested in the country's democracy, thanks to the Undi18 amendment.

“I hope that by placing relatively younger people in positions of leadership, it encourages more youth participation to bring about forward-thinking and fresh ideas,” she said.

“The Sabah state anthem itself calls upon youth to rise up and I view these appointments as being in line with that,” she added.

With Benedick at the helm of entrepreneur development, Fiqah hopes to see more long-term and sustainable support for small to medium enterprises (SMEs), especially in Sabah.

“This is in terms of incentives, financial assistance via grants, development programmes, and capacity-building initiatives,” she said.

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She also hoped that this would translate to empowering rural and suburban economies as well so that Sabahans across the board could have a decent livelihood without having to travel to urban areas in search of a better living.

Fiqah also felt that the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) continued to cast a shadow over Sabah and Sarawak as it remains to be seen how the new government will address it.

She said while the tenets of MA63 were core to both states, Sabah and Sarawak affairs extended beyond the implementation of MA63 and this should be reflected in how Armizan handles his portfolio (as Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Sabah and Sarawak affairs).

“Beyond MA63, I am keen to see what our new minister will do in advocating for equal representation in all matters, especially through implementation of laws and policies,” she said.

Fiqah said Sabah and Sarawak were far from being equal partners with the peninsula and remained excluded from mainstream narratives.

“I hope to see Sabahans and Sarawakians reap equal benefits as our counterparts in the peninsula,” she added.

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