LETTER | Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman's press conference on Nov 9 when he announced his resignation as president of Muda was a class act. He had earlier been convicted by the High Court for money laundering, criminal breach of trust, and two other charges. He is now free pending appeal.
Thanks to the quirks of the Federal Constitution, Syed Saddiq remains an MP representing Muar which he won in the 2018 general election. In his first term, he was appointed youth and sports minister at age 25, the youngest federal minister ever. Quite an impressive start!
Had Saddiq been in the Indian Parliament, he would have had to resign his parliamentary seat upon conviction regardless of his appeal status. India adopted that rule in 2013.
In resigning as his party’s leader, Saddiq set a new level of conduct for the political class. It was not a surprise that his press conference where he announced his resignation received many favourable comments on social media.
Much as I admire his performance, I feel that Syed Saddiq, like so many bright young Malays, is wasting his precious talent.
If I were privileged to be his mentor, this is what I would have advised him. When he graduated from law school I would have encouraged him to further his studies and not be satisfied with his first degree. Get accepted to a prestigious university to pursue his LLM (Master of Laws) or PhD. He would have no difficulty getting funding for that.
Then find a job with a high-powered law firm to get some real-life experience, and with that, some money in the bank to take care of his future family. Then only should he consider entering politics.
It is unfortunate that so many bright young Malays today think that their first degree is enough. They lack adequate mentoring to advise them otherwise.
Young Malays today have a limited horizon and think that the only way for them to serve their community is through politics. Malay politicians are a dime a dozen; not so with Malay entrepreneurs, professionals, and scientists. You serve your community far more effectively through those routes.
What Malaysia needs are smart politicians, not run-of-the-mill types adept only at stirring the masses with their Ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) fantasies and delusions. Malays already have a glut of those types.
Over my decades in America, I have been privileged to meet many smart young Malays. Unfortunately, many are in a rush to return home to “help my people,” and think politics is the only path to that end.
Alas, many of them ended up like Syed Saddiq, their talents squandered. Think of the good Syed Saddiq would have done had he become an accomplished lawyer and fought for citizens like what Siti Zabedah Kasim is now doing.
Today, young Syed Saddiq faces some very serious punishments. Let us hope he has some seasoned lawyers representing him.
Muda is now helmed by its vice-president, Amira Aisya Abd Aziz, another young lawyer. As one of the few non-race-based parties (the other being Anwar Ibrahim’s Keadilan), Muda should be confident of its own winning strategy. That is what Malaysia needs today.
Focus on building the party and quit forming alliances. Start on your own. Prepare now in time to contest the next major election which should be the Sabah one in about two years' time. In the meantime, strengthen the party. Building a political party means recruiting members.
One way to showcase that you are indeed a novel party with fresh innovative ideas would be to introduce term limits for your officers and have the equivalent of local primaries to select candidates for state and federal elections.
Separate yourself from existing stale political parties where the folks at headquarters would select the candidates. Instead, have your local members select your party’s electoral candidates. Practise local democracy. Then you would have candidates who would pay attention to their local constituents instead of sucking up to the party’s apparatchiks at headquarters. That is the curse of PAS, Umno, and the other established parties.
Muda’s top priority now should be to establish branches in every federal and state constituency. Recruit local accomplished personalities who share your views to join the party. Begin by sharing the party’s vision of Malaysia with the rakyat.
For those other bright young Malays, let Syed Saddiq be a cautionary tale. There is a vast and exciting field out there to serve your nation outside of politics.
M BAKRI MUSA is a Malaysian-born and Canadian-trained surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He writes at bakrimusa.blogspot.com
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.