About a year ago, 25 year old Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman was faced with a mafia like kind of intimidation. On one hand he was promised RM 5 million and at the same time his family received threats by those from the previous Prime Minister’s Office to quit politics.
However, rather than cave in to the pressure which had felled previous senior UMNO leaders, Syed Saddiq stuck to his guns and declared : “No deal.”
Not only did pass up this temptation, he also had to put paid to his childhood and family dreams of completing his education at Oxford University, one of the world’s most prestigious universities.
He staked all of this to stick to the clarion call issued by Tun Dr Mahathir to stand together and take down the most kleptocratic regime in Malaysia’s history.
A year later, this man, whom some had casually derided as a ‘boy’ only a month ago, is now Malaysia’s youngest ever Cabinet Minister.
Congratulations to you YB Menteri.
Okay, the adulation stops right now and here comes the firm advice that we hope will help YB Syed Saddiq navigate this new responsibility.
I am actually quite afraid that this maybe a step to fast too soon, but I do hope the best and the best.
As Minister of Youth and Sports, YB Syed sits at the pinnacle of a Ministry with over 3,800 personnel overseeing an operational budget of RM 400 million and a development budget of about the same amount. Under this ministry are important initiatives such as TVET, ILKBS, Micro Industry Initiatives and instutions like Majilis Sukan Negara (MSN) and Institut Sukan Negara (ISN).
He will be served by senior civil servants who are well pushing into their late fifties. They are probably old enough to be his parents but instead he will literally be their boss.
Even tougher than that will be a meeting he attends every Wednesday that is like no other meeting in the country. YB Menteri Syed Saddiq will be chauffer driven into the Prime Ministers Department to attend the Weekly Cabinet Meeting, aptly held at Bilik Mesyuarat Kabinet on Level 4 of the East Wing .
He will participate in a responsibility and privilege very few people in the whole country will ever have the opportunity to do in their entire lives. He will be privy to state secrets, he will be alive to the possibility of political moves and manoeuvres. He may even witness first hand discussions which turn heated or could threaten to even bring down the Government.
With this kind of responsibility, YB Syed Saddiq faces unprecedented challenges. I guess the first thing is to get married because you really need a wife to help ensure that the ego does not go to the head. The next thing is to set corral the smartest people around him to give him a vision of what he intends to fight for. And the most important thing is as Minister to never ever lose your temper at those Senior Civil Servants who are older than you. Be firm, but polite.
Also, the first guy he should meet is perhaps Dr. Tan Chee Phin, the accountant for the Ministry and to read the National Audit report on this ministry. He should ensure that all those who are “not 100% clean” stay far away from him. Only work with clean officers, because they are the ones who have your interest in mind. Good luck, YB Menteri!
Picture credits from Astro Awani