SINGAPORE: Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman is dedicated to preserving match.
In between lectures and engagements with politicians in addition to enterprise leaders, the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Muar federal seat in Johor suits in every day runs alongside the Marina Bay promenade, a stone’s throw from the lodge he’s staying at.
Malaysia’s youngest MP has been in Singapore for nearly a month, attending lessons as he works in direction of the completion of a post-graduate senior fellowship programme with the National University of Singapore.
In an interview with CNA, the 28-year-old identified the long-lasting sights and sights round Singapore’s metropolis centre with ease.
“This place is brilliant for jogging. I’ve fully explored Gardens By The Bay, ran past the Singapore Flyer, and I’ve circled the whole area around Marina Bay including the Merlion and Esplanade… It’s an amazing route,” stated Syed Saddiq.
While he was serving two weeks of quarantine in a lodge after arriving from Malaysia on Mar 7, he needed to resort to working round his mattress for an hour every single day to work out a sweat.
“I’m pretty sure if anyone saw me from afar, they’d think I was crazy,” he stated.
When he noticed a gaggle of Malaysians primarily based in Singapore throughout the interview, he requested how they have been coping with not having the ability to go to house recurrently amid the pandemic, whereas agreeing to pose for an image.
Slightly over a yr in the past, he was Malaysia’s youngest Cabinet minister in history, when he was appointed Minister for Youth and Sports within the Pakatan Harapan (PH) authorities after the 2018 General Election.
Rather a lot has modified since. The PH authorities fell in March final yr and Syed Saddiq was faraway from his ministerial place. He additionally subsequently give up the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) and co-founded Malaysia’s first youth-based get together Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA).
“WE ALL HAVE SOMETHING TO LEARN FROM ONE ANOTHER”
Last September, Syed Saddiq introduced that he could be going again to high school, after accepting a scholarship from NUS for a post-graduate senior fellowship programme on the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP).
He had been attending online lessons since then, and is now in Singapore for a month to satisfy his batch mates and attend lessons, a few of which he stated have been performed by Singapore politicians and senior members of the civil service.
“So far it’s been amazing. The lessons have been truly refreshing because they’re not like typical lectures (during my undergraduate days),” stated Syed Saddiq.
“You hear ministers and permanent secretaries speaking about their own personal experiences, how they navigate the jungles of bureaucracy and politics,” he recounted.
“How a permanent secretary would, for example, when the minister disagrees with some suggestions made by the civil service … navigate through all this. Because in the end, interests must be aligned … I’ve learnt things which I wouldn’t have elsewhere.”
He additionally described how he realized “priceless” classes from his fellow coursemates, a lot of whom are members of the Singapore civil service. There are additionally politicians from all over the world, together with a former minister of Costa Rica.
“We all have our strengths, and the unique part about this batch is that we build on each other’s strengths. We all have something to learn from one another,” he added.
This trip to Singapore marks the first time Syed Saddiq is studying outside Malaysia. He attended the Royal Military college before pursuing law at the International Islamic University of Malaysia.
He previously turned down two offers by Oxford University, including one in 2018 for a conditional Chevening scholarship to obtain his Master’s in Public Policy, citing how it could interfere with his work in politics.
When asked why he picked LKYSPP when the offer came in 2020, he said a key reason was the respect he had for Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
“I think you can never separate Singapore from Lee Kuan Yew. Not now, not ever. I was confident I was going to learn a lot from (a) school that he has lent his name to,” said Syed Saddiq.
Another key factor behind his decision was the opportunity to learn while networking with Singapore leaders.
“Let’s say I had gone to Oxford. I would never have got to meet up with Singapore ministers, ex-ministers, people from Temasek Holdings, civil service, etc. The ties built here will be long-lasting. And that’s something you will never get anywhere else,” he added.
While in Singapore, Syed Saddiq has held non-public casual discussions with Minister for Transport Ong Ye Kung, former minister George Yeo, Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh in addition to MP for Nee Soon GRC Derrick Goh.
He stated that these engagements have been invaluable significantly as a result of he now not was a minister representing his authorities, and thus might converse frankly.
“We know that the future of Singapore and Malaysia are intertwined with one another,” stated Syed Saddiq.
“And if we succeed, we succeed together and that’s the reality of things. We should never see the Malaysia-Singapore relationship as a zero-sum game. Singapore win, Malaysia lose or Malaysia win Singapore loses – that’s a lie, it’s a fallacy,” he added.
SHARING HIS EXPERIENCES IN POLICYMAKING
Besides studying in school, Syed Saddiq additionally had the chance to share a few of his experiences in policymaking, particularly from his time as minister.
He cited how in 2019, he needed to navigate variations throughout the political divide to garner help for Undi18, a transfer to decrease the voting age of Malaysians from 21 to 18.
“Even though I was a minister, I met up with MPs from the opposition, and I listened to them. I had many sessions with them. I wanted to show that we can come from different political parties or have different interests to defend the youth,” he stated.
In a uncommon bipartisan transfer, lawmakers unanimously accepted the measure to decrease the voting age.
However, Malaysia’s Election Commission (EC) stated final week it won’t implement a decrease voting age as scheduled in 2021, doubtlessly affecting 1.2 million younger voters if a basic election is held, as anticipated, by the tip of the yr.
The EC stated that the latest spate of nationwide lockdowns on account of COVID-19 had affected its preparation to implement the brand new rule, which was on account of have gone into impact in July.
Commenting on the announcement, the Muar MP stated that MUDA would file a case in courtroom to problem this act, citing how it will have an effect on Malaysia’s “constitutional integrity” since Undi18 had already handed by means of the parliament and senate.
READ: Commentary – Malaysian youths will force a political reckoning some day. That day may be at hand
ON BEING CALLED A “KID” IN PARLIAMENT
Syed Saddiq’s opponents have prior to now taken goal at his perceived lack of experience.
For instance, throughout a price range debate in Parliament final yr, UMNO MP for Pasir Salak Tajuddin Abdul Rahman stated “kids should sit down”, when Syed Saddiq was speaking in regards to the problem of taxes for glove-making firms.
The comment sparked protests from varied opposition MPs, calling for Tajuddin to withdraw his comment. Syed Saddiq didn’t get drawn into the mudslinging.
“Young people are a great asset and you should never measure a person’s value based on your age. So that’s why when (the MP for) Pasir Salak said all this to me, I didn’t respond by calling him ‘old or boomer’. Instead I wanted to focus on the point I was trying to make,” stated Syed Saddiq.
“I don’t think we should be defensive or feel as if we were incompetent and inferior. We should turn that negative vibes into something positive, into a strong sense of idealism and passion to prove them wrong through our success,” he added.
Before he arrived in Singapore, Syed Saddiq introduced that he was voluntarily foregoing his MP wage for the month of March, and can donate it to his crew to assist residents in his constituency.
He has hosted evening seminars giving ideas on public talking, vital pondering and speech writing whereas attending lessons in NUS. The proceeds from these occasions have gone to assist college youngsters in Muar.
“I think the days where we practice the politics of pandering are over,” stated Syed Saddiq.
“The best way to take Malaysia forward is to focus on the politics of service and policies, and to ensure that we not just tolerate but celebrate moderation and multiracialism in Malaysia, because that is inherently our strength,” he added.