Syed Saddiq’s Fifteen Minutes

Daniel Ong

The Foodpanda debacle in recent months had no doubt left a bitter taste in Syed Saddiq’s mouth. What began as a “genuine concern” for the welfare of young Malaysian workers turned out to be an uncontrollable PR mess that not only affected him, but the rest of his Cabinet members as well.

But was the firebrand leader from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia genuinely concerned?

Syed Saddiq positions himself as a do-all for the government of the day. This is not the first time he went out of his way to champion the people – not too long ago he was busy lobbying for Gojek to be introduced in Malaysia, to the point of personally setting up a meeting between Gojek’s founder Nadiem Makarim and the Prime Minister himself, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Bear in mind that Gojek provides food delivery services too – a direct competitor to Foodpanda if they make it onto our shores. Is our Minister of Youth and Sports in their pockets?

But let us not delve too far into speculations. The fact is these should not be part of the larger concerns when it comes to Syed Saddiq’s role as a minister, and these gymnastics are just red herrings thrown at us to hide the fact that at best, he is only good at fulfilling half of his tasks.

While we should commend him for recognising and addressing the concerns of the Malaysian youth (paid internships, lowering the voting age, and the likes), Syed Saddiq has not done a good job when it comes to developing Malaysian sports. Since May 2018 we have seen many Malaysian athletes complaining about his ministry’s lack of direction, both at continuing developmental works in our mainstay sports and introducing plans to enhance new ones such as esports – it wasn’t until recently that he announced a league for it.

It can be safely said that his attempts at hijacking our Minister of Human Resources, M. Kulasegaran’s job is a ploy to channel more positive attention onto him, and filter out the bad ones. We all know Syed Saddiq to be someone who, more often than not, says the right things at the right time but does not follow through.

His chumminess with businesses is indeed worrying. When the idea of Gojek in Malaysia was first brought up, although many of his supporters justified his actions by saying we need a direct competitor to Grab, they overlook the fact that there are other monopolies here in Malaysia that has abused pricing for far too long, such as the likes of Astro.

But of course, being Tun Dr Mahathir’s blue-eyed boy, Syed Saddiq refrained from even touching the matter, seeing as Astro is owned by a dear friend. So much for genuine concerns.

In Syed Saddiq’s mind, he thinks that being in the spotlight when it comes to things like the Foodpanda crisis is all that is needed to secure his path towards loftier positions. To him, it is not about working with the rest of the cabinet and government members by sharing ideas and solutions – it is just about him maintaining relevance to young Malaysians.

While M. Kulasegaran may seem like an easy target, there is no doubt that many senior politicians in the Cabinet are tired of his antics, along with many grassroots members in PPBM and Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

What he is too short-sighted to understand is most of the young people in Malaysia are not even Muar voters, nor are they PPBM’s youth wing members. Stepping over his own cabinet members just for the spotlight will only set things up harder for him later.

I am sure many Malaysians are supportive of new faces in politics, with fresh ideas and the zeal to bring forward the best policies. It is just too bad that Syed Saddiq, while having the potential and capability for it, decides to squander our hopes for his fifteen minutes of fame.

But maybe it is for the best that this charlatan of a statesman is exposed for what he truly is. Malaysia deserves better politicians to serve her, not someone who thinks of himself as a new revolutionary figure in the scene. But what does it say about our future as a nation when our youngest minister only cares about his own image?