Tanjung Piai exposes Syed Saddiq’s hypocrisy

Husni Zakaria, Free Malaysia Today

The Tanjung Piai by-election is approaching but some ruling politicians have managed to kick off their campaign period even before nomination day.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub announced an allocation worth RM14 million to upgrade fishing jetties in Tanjung Piai, followed by Rural Development Minister Rina Harun who presented financial grants for the constituency.

Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, meanwhile, announced an allocation of RM4 million to upgrade sports and recreational facilities in Tanjung Piai.

He said the allocation was part of a personal request by the late MP Dr Md Farid Md Rafik.

Vote-buying is wrong, and justifying it by invoking the dead is crossing the line.

This is not the first time for Syed Saddiq.

Leading up to the Semenyih by-election, he promised to develop the constituency into a cycling tourism spot. Unfortunately for Pakatan Harapan (PH), it lost the by-election.

But it was even more unfortunate for the residents of Semenyih to see the minister’s promises unfulfilled.

We thought handouts were relics of the past which would not exist in Malaysia Baru. We voted in this government for the change that we wanted, hoping to move forwards to become a true democracy.

Many of us also thought that having a fresh face like Syed Saddiq in politics would serve as a catalyst for a new way of doing things. He presented himself as a smart and capable young man, someone who would one day turn into a respected statesman.

Clearly, we were wrong.

Syed Saddiq is a master at positioning himself and his image – he makes all the right noises when it comes to populist issues like the gig economy and lowering the voting age, even at the expense of his Cabinet colleagues.

While credit should be given to him for the little things he has done, let us not forget that we are dealing with a political animal who we must not leave unchecked.

For someone who vehemently called for cleaner politics in Malaysia, and who from time to time voiced his support and commitment to transparency and accountability, Syed Saddiq has stooped low to ensure that his coalition wins the by-election.

Malaysians should be angry. But while many have voiced their disapproval of government funds being used for handouts, the reactions have been sporadic.

The Election Commission says it is not the proper authority to determine whether allocations constitute an offence or otherwise.

Groups like Bersih 2.0 have also voiced their disapproval about the abuse of government machinery and funds.

At the end of the day, it is up to us voters as to what kind of Malaysia we want for our future.

Syed Saddiq said he would embark on a “Listening Tour” to compile suggestions from Tanjung Piai residents on the best ways to develop the area.

I do hope someone confronts him on the blatant abuse and vote-buying in Tanjung Piai.

When Barisan Nasional did the same leading up to the 14th general election, it was widely criticised, including by Syed Saddiq himself. PH leaders at the time famously pleaded with Malaysians to take the handouts but vote for them.

Perhaps the residents of Tanjung Piai should do the same this time around.