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Syed Saddiq needs to prove he is worth banking on

LETTER | Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman wants to portray himself as the future of Malaysia but has done little to prove that he is something worth banking on.

To his credit, Syed Saddiq’s achievement of pushing a constitutional amendment in Dewan Rakyat on July 16, 2019, is something that all Malaysians can be proud of.

True to his word as a youth-orientated minister, he is not only the first politician to successfully push through a constitutional amendment since 2009, but also the first person to do so with a government that does not have a two-third majority in Parliament.

He has shown Malaysians that bipartisan cooperation is possible in Malaysia Baru and that the future of Malaysian youth is in good hands.

But aside from that, there has been a near-total abandonment of the reforms and improvements promised by him and Pakatan Harapan from GE14.

His detractors might cite the almost parodic absence of free English Premier League screenings on public television, but it belies a fundamental lack of respect on part of the current government towards its obligations towards the rakyat.

They promised a new form of Malaysian government – to remove the old pillars of centralised power that have stunted our progress since the beginning of the 21st century.

But since gaining power, it’s easy to see that nothing much seems to have changed. If anything, it may have just gotten worse.

Even fundamental values such as freedom of speech continue to be threatened, amusingly by even Syed Saddiq himself.

For example, the recent controversy over a Youth and Sports Ministry circular that threatened a Perdana Fellow under his watch for openly criticising his management of Bersatu’s Youth wing.

This is surprising given that the minister had long expressed the need for freedom of speech and expression prior to Harapan’s win in 2018 and this kind of scare tactics were the same things that he had spoken out against during the election campaign.

Harapan had promised one million high-paying jobs by 2020, but there remains little in the way of policy programmes that would support this.

It doesn’t have to be anything radical such as a guaranteed jobs programme, but anything that would resemble concrete shifts towards adapting to global economic trends are yet to be seen.

Syed Saddiq himself needs to deliver on his sports portfolio, especially regarding the direction of how Malaysian football will continue to develop in this pivotal time for the National Football Development Programme.

We are currently in an exciting moment for the newly rejuvenated Malaysian football scene - and it will be up to Syed Saddiq to ensure that our young players can make the best of it.

The foundation has been set, thanks to the efforts of private clubs that pride themselves on independence.

It will ultimately be up to the federal government to capitalise and emulate these efforts on the national level.

This applies to his patronage of the various new sports that he has publicly promoted since taking his Youth and Sports Minister portfolio.

He needs to extend the same commitment shown during his first few months in office and understand that while the results may not be apparent initially - it will pay dividends in future.

As we inch closer towards the end of 2020, there is still much work to be done. It’s time to stop getting distracted and get on with it.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.
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