Which Southeast Asian Nation May See Its Youngest Candidate as Head of Government?

Which Southeast Asian Nation May See Its Youngest Candidate as Head of Government?

As Indonesia prepares for the presidential election in 2024, Indonesia's Constitutional Court has rendered a verdict against the judicial review petition for reducing the minimum age of presidential and vice presidential candidates to below 40 years old on October 16, 2023.

However, the Court has granted an exception for those under 40 who have previously served or been elected as regional leaders. This final ruling ultimately clears the path for President Joko Widodo's eldest son, 36-year-old Gibran Rakabuming Raka, to be eligible to run in the 2024 election.

A week following the Court's ruling, on October 23, 2023, an official statement was made, declaring Gibran the vice presidential candidate for Prabowo Subianto.

Even so, the question arises: Is Indonesia the nation that finally allows the youngest leader among Southeast Asian countries to take office?

Official data has been gathered pertaining to the minimum age requirement for those aspiring to become candidates for the position of head of government in Southeast Asian countries. Regulatory information regarding Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Timor-Leste, and Viet Nam was regrettably unavailable.

According to the infographics above, the Philippines also has its minimum age requirement of 40, similar to Indonesia—with aforementioned exemptions in place for candidates in Indonesia. Both Singapore and Myanmar have a minimum age requirement of 45 years for anybody aspiring to become President, recording the oldest minimum age requirement within the region.

However, Thailand's official data recorded the youngest individual that could run the government at a minimum age of 35. 

Despite Thailand setting the formal age limit at 35 for its leaders, Cambodia has notably recorded the youngest leader in the history of Southeast Asia. Hun Sen began to serve as Cambodia's Prime Minister when he was only 33 years old, for almost 40 years of reign from 1985 to 2023. Meanwhile, M.R. Seni Pramoj became the youngest to first occupy office as the Prime Minister of Thailand when he turned 40 in 1945.

As Myanmar currently has the highest minimum age required to run as presidential candidates among Southeast Asian countries at 45, historical records revealed Win Maung as the youngest president to take the position at the age of 41 in 1957, during the period when it was the Union of Burma.

In addition to Myanmar, one of the most historically prominent figures in Singapore's political landscape, Lee Kuan Yew, was appointed as the country's first Prime Minister at age 36 in 1959 and held the position as the head of government for almost 31 years.

In your opinion, do you think it matters how old a leader is? Are there any other factors, such as experience, integrity, or any other important element, that are of utmost importance in the election of a head of government?

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