Malaysia's Youngest Parliamentarian P Prabakaran On Why Age Is Not A Barrier To Doing Great Things For Your Nation
Age is just a number
The words ‘youth’ and ‘young’ have been circulating pre- and post-election. While many like the idea of younger, fresher faces going into politics, many still do not take to the idea that well. Comments ranged from, “We need the young who will voice out what the current voters want,” to “He’s just a boy—what makes everyone think he will make a difference?”
As it turns out, a difference has been made. He was sworn in as the youngest Member of Parliament in history on July 16. Following this, he quickly established his first priority. “My first duty is to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18. With the support of the other MPs, of course,” he politely added. For Prabakaran, the bigger picture isn’t joining politics for the sake of it, but to support new ideas. All in the name of developing and enhancing youth programmes.
Needless to say, his youth, a topic of interest to all, was heavily discussed. We are certain he has exhausted the use of the phrase, ‘Age is just a number.’ Sure enough, he reiterated: “When people approach me for help, they don’t ask my age. Age shouldn’t be an indication as to whether you should or should not help someone, and it definitely should not be a barrier when one is thinking of getting into politics. That’s a popular notion among the elders and the politicians across all political parties—and that’s what I’m here for, to change that,” he argued.
Parents to encourage politics
Prabakaran hopes that more parents will encourage their children to participate in politics, to make a difference and to change the future for the better. “For now I don’t see many parents encouraging their children to be involved in politics,” he bemoaned.
During his first foray into politics, Prabakaran admitted being fearful. After all, he had no experience and neither did those backing him. His own parents and grandparents had an inkling of politics, but nothing too in-depth. Nevertheless, they supported his decision to dive in—something for which he is immensely grateful. Prabakaran’s father was quite pleased when his son announced his initial interest in politics, acknowledging that few in this time and at his age were keen. To get yourself nominated is not a small thing. One has to have something extra special, and as it turns out, his son had it in spades.
A true 'Sentul' boy to stage
Despite having grown up from a 'true Sentul boy' as he puts it, to a leader of the people, Prabakaran is still his same self—a Malaysian driven by the vision of a greater Malaysia. His dream goes as such: “A country where there is no such thing as race, colour or status, and where everyone is treated equally. This is my first ‘harapan.’”
When asked to send a message to the younger generation who hope to follow in his footsteps, he advised, “Go ahead. Politics is about serving the public. Only do it if you have a pure heart. Besides that, read lots of books and newspapers. In fact, always pay attention to the news. Be active on social media about political issues, create new ideas and voice out your ideas to Parliament. If I can do it, so can you.”
For the full interview, grab a copy of Malaysia Tatler's August 2018 issue, out on newsstands now.
In case you missed it, we had a chat with political patriots Nurul Izzah and Hannah Yeoh on freedom and change for the nation.
Photography: Kim Mun / Hopscotch Photography
Art Direction: Liew Chiaw Ching / Malaysia Tatler
Styling: Andrea Kee
Videography: Dean Shaari / Malaysia Tatler
Hairstylist: Juno Ko
Outfits: aere Men