KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — Malaysia’s former Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman on Sunday (20 September) revealed that he has been offered a place and a scholarship at the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy for a senior fellowship programme.
“I’ve been keeping this news to myself from the month of June, but since classes start tomorrow online, why not share the good news with my friends,” he wrote in a Facebook post yesterday.
Disclosing that the senior fellowship programme will be one specialising in Public Service, the Muar Member of Parliament said that as a young individual, there is a lot more for him to learn to increase his capacity and ability to serve the people of Malaysia.
“I had to skip my masters in Oxford uni twice due to politics. Finally i get a chance to sharpen my Public Policy skills while serving fellow Malaysians,” he said.
His new political party “MUDA” — the Malay word for “young” — has been registered and is currently awaiting the approval of the Registrar of Societies.
Speaking to CNA in a video interview last month, Syed Saddiq said that it is high time for politics in Malaysia to cease being “controlled and monopolised by the same old people”.
“If in Thailand they can set up Future Forward, in France they can set up En Marche under Macron, I think it is timely in Malaysia to start up a movement made of young people,” said Syed Saddiq.
The new party, he said, will comprise “young technocrats, professionals, young politicians from different backgrounds” to ensure that the interests of the youths in the country “can never be taken lightly any more”.
Syed Saddiq was formerly the leader of ARMADA, the youth wing of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (BERSATU) while BERSATU was still a component party of the Pakatan Harapan coalition alongside Parti Keadilan Rakyat and the Democratic Action Party.
Bersatu is currently led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin after co-founder Mahathir Mohamad was ousted from the party. The party is now part of the Malay-centric Perikatan Nasional alliance with Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).
Dr Mahathir’s then-right-hand man Muhyiddin took the mantle of Prime Minister following a power vacuum left by the former’s resignation from the post.
In a poem written in Malay, published on his personal blog on 12 August, Dr Mahathir criticised BERSATU, saying that the party, which was originally established to save Malaysia from kleptocracy and corruption, has been ‘hijacked’ to “save our enemies” for the love of power and money.
He wrote that his new political party Pejuang was borne out of “awareness” of the destructive effects of corruption on Malays.
“If you seek positions and money. Choose another party. If you want to reclaim [your] dignity. If you want to preserve our rights. Choose our party. Choose PEJUANG,” concluded Dr Mahathir.
Speaking to a news conference at the Perdana Leadership Foundation earlier this month, Dr Mahathir said that “it is difficult” for Syed Saddiq’s youth-centric party to succeed despite the youth being “a very big portion of the electorate”.
“In any constituency, there will be old people, there will be young people. We are going to appeal to the young people as well,” he said, referencing Pejuang.
Syed Saddiq, however, responded to Dr Mahathir’s remarks by stressing that his party is “youth-led” and not “youth-exclusive”.
Commenting on Dr Mahathir’s assertion that the new party may serve to “split” Malay votes, Syed Saddiq told Malaysiakini in an interview that he is not in politics “to only be the servant of the Malays”.
“I’m here to be the servant for all Malaysians. I’m not here just to unite the Malays, but to unite all Malaysians,” he said.