22/12/2023 10:03 AM
From Balkish Awang

There is no universally agreed international definition of the youth age group. Globally, the average age for ‘youth’ is between 15 and 30.

In accordance with international standards, Malaysia has recently redefined the term ‘youth’ with the age limit now capped at 30 – scaling it down from the previous upper limit of 40.

On Nov 23, Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh said the government has set Jan 1, 2026 as the date that the Youth Societies and Youth Development (Amendment) Act 2019 (Act A1602), which capped the age limit for youth at 30, will come into force.

Among others, the act  involves setting the age limit for youth society office bearers to 18 to 30 years old and shortening the period to hold office as head of youth society from six to four years.

The amendment to the Youth Societies and Youth Development Act 2007 (Act 668) was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on July 3, 2019 after almost five hours of debate by 17 members of parliament.

It was tabled by the then Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman in the morning. The bill was however left in the backburner for almost four years due to protests from various youth organisations. They argued that the move could affect the governance and operation of their organisation.



By comparison, Malaysia extended the youth status from 15 to 40 years of age. Indonesia for example, categorised youth as those aged between 16 to 30 years while the Philippines (15-30 years), Thailand (15-24 years) and Australia (12-24 years).

Given the situation in neighbouring countries and the region, experts and leaders of non-governmental organisations opined that the time has come for Act A1602 to be enforced.

National Association of Skilled Workers (PKPB) secretary-general Mohammad Rizan Hassan said empowering youth under the new definition for youth is in line with the current changes in the international landscape.

 “The changes in the age limit will not have any direct implications on the structure and shape of the community but are expected to boost youth development programmes and youth organisations,” he told Bernama.

Mohammad Rizan Hassan

 He said under the Malaysia MADANI era, youth are increasingly demanding more opportunities and solutions in their societies and those that are closely related to them.

As such, gazetting the age limit for youth allows youth development programmes to be planned based on the new age limit, factoring in the views of the target groups.

“They are proud of the remarkable transformation taking place in the country, especially in local community development. They are also enthusiastic about discussing current issues such as the new   government policies through various platforms especially the social media.

“Hence, the influence and opinions of youth as a positive force for development should not be taken lightly. Every issue that is raised by this group should be carefully weighed, refined and assessed wisely,” he said.



Elaborating on the matter, the youth activist also proposed that development programmes be divided into three levels, namely programmes focusing on the general youth; leadership programmes in associations for youth aged 20 to 30 and guidance programmes aimed at producing professional workers for those aged 20 and above.

Mohammad Rizan said unlike developed nations, Malaysia has lost sight on the pivotal role played by young professional workers as support groups in youth development.

 “Developed nations give freedom to those who embrace youth potential and participation or known as ‘Professional Youth Workers’ to network with the younger generation.

“This relationship helps to boost confidence, empathy and social skills among the young. They also motivate the younger people to believe in themselves and to positively contribute to society,” he added.

The Malaysian youth are hoping to see changes for the better, especially those that are closely related to them.

He also called on the government to formulate two policies in youth development, namely a policy for age groups between 13 to 18 years and another youth policy involving individuals between 18 to 30 years.

 “Through youth policies, we can expect registered youth associations to focus on schools, hence paving way for the implementation of dynamic and holistic youth development programmes,” he said.



Meanwhile, President of the Malaysian Hindu Youth Council (HYO) S. Ananthan described the gazettement of Act A1602 as a positive development as it provided earlier opportunities for the younger generation to be engaged with the community.

"The move to lower the age limit for youth can be considered as recognition to the role of youth in shaping the future of the community and the nation by giving their rights at a younger age; it is crucial that their voice be amplified and their contributions in the decision-making process and nation building be tapped.

“As a leader in protecting and fighting for the rights of youth, I am committed to ensuring that the lower age limit is supported and facilitated with ample opportunities to assist the young during their transition to adulthood.

 “These include extending support towards associations, leadership, education, job training and incentives for those who contribute positively to the community,” he said.

Ananthan said the dynamic and holistic planning in youth empowerment should start now to ensure that the government’s decision is well-received by all quarters.

Asked on the appropriateness of lowering the age limit, he said the move would bode well for the younger generation’s future as it prepares them for their engagement with the community.

 “They can develop their life skills at an earlier age and adapt to the realities of the working environment, hence contributing towards the socio-economic development in the country,” he said.

  "This amendment also empowers youth in the decision- making process by giving them their rights and responsibilities at an early age, either in politics, community engagement or other sectors. As a direct effect, the leadership values among youth can be nurtured at a younger age,” he added.

 Ananthan said the government should also provide adequate infrastructure such as education, training and employment opportunities to support youth in their transition to adulthood.

 "The programmes should be carefully implemented by taking into consideration the long term impact and its effects on national development,” he said.



Meanwhile, Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Mursyid Arshad, lecturer in Educational Studies (Youth Development), Faculty of Educational Studies, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) said the lower age limit can enhance their maturity level in social institutions.

He said this would also narrow the gap between the young and old in addition to fostering partnership between the two generations in societal engagement.

 “The age limit category can help the government and stakeholders in youth development in their endeavour to reach out to the group in a more inclusive manner; indirectly, it can enhance their personal identity in addition to nurturing more youth who are the foundation of our future as tomorrow’s leaders.

Prof Madya Dr Mohd Mursyid Arshad.

“The lower age limit for youth can pave the way for a more systematic environment in the transition for youth into adulthood, hence curbing youth activities in risky activities,” he said.

He also proposed that the youth age limit of between 15 to 30 years be divided into three categories, namely early youth (15 to 18), mid youth (15 to 24) and late youth (25 to 30).

He said, based on the latest statistics from the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), those aged between 15 to 30 years accounted for 9.1 million people or 27.8 per cent of the total population in the country, hence, it is imperative of the government to empower them in the socio-economic, technology and environment aspects.

The move, he said is in line with the government’s efforts in empowering the social system and maintaining economic growth.

At the same time, Mohd Mursyid said the demands of the group must be heard by the relevant parties, such as those related to costs of living, job opportunities as well as wages.

 “They are also demanding their rights to home ownership in addition to access to quality education,” he said, adding that all these aspects are vital for making youth as partners in national development.

As he wraps up the interview, Mohd Mursyid expressed hope that the youth empowerment agenda could be extended to young adults, those aged between 31 to 40 years.


Translated by Salbiah Said


BERNAMA provides up-to-date authentic and comprehensive news and information which are disseminated via BERNAMA Wires; www.bernama.com; BERNAMA TV on Astro 502, unifi TV 631 and MYTV 121 channels and BERNAMA Radio on FM93.9 (Klang Valley), FM107.5 (Johor Bahru), FM107.9 (Kota Kinabalu) and FM100.9 (Kuching) frequencies.

Follow us on social media :
Facebook : @bernamaofficial, @bernamatv, @bernamaradio
Twitter : @bernama.com, @BernamaTV, @bernamaradio
Instagram : @bernamaofficial, @bernamatvofficial, @bernamaradioofficial
TikTok : @bernamaofficial

© 2024 BERNAMA   • Disclaimer   • Privacy Policy   • Security Policy