Youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq is a refreshing face in the new cabinet.
He invited his predecessor Khairy Jamaluddin to the welcome ceremony at his ministry, and tweeted later that Khairy had left him with “a big shoe to fill in”.
What I was trying to say is that we have seen way too many new government officials eager to take credit for themselves but would push the responsibility back to their predecessors, especially those on the other side of the political divide. Very, very few would do otherwise!
As if that was not enough, Syed Saddiq picked up the garbage at the stadium after watching the FA Cup final last weekend.
Of course, after the video of him picking up trash went viral on social media, many gave him the thumbs-up but many others accused him of “acting”.
To me, whether he was acting or not should not be an issue. As a political leader, that is a very fine example anyway.
Watching a football game with the masses is not a big deal, but showing the public how to be civic-conscious is.
Syed Saddiq is a new generation leader we can really look forward to.
However, the young minister lacks something else other leaders should have, such as a new mentality and loyalty to his principle, the deficiency of which has been manifested in the way he handles the resignation of his aide.
News of him appointing his political ally, LGBT activist Numan Afifi, as his press officer has since drawn the ire and assaults from the conservatives who argue that LGBT is a sinful anomaly.
Very soon Numan quit. In his resignation letter, he wrote, “Hopefully we get to live as a community in Malaysia that cherishes diversity without prejudices.”
Syed Saddiq failed to keep him, thanking him and wishing him the best instead on Twitter.
As a cabinet minister and superior, Syed Saddiq should have defended Numan. Ironically, it was Numan that offered to resign to defend his superior cum ally Syed Saddiq.
Obviously, Numan’s resignation was not about his capability but the discrimination that robs the LGBT community of their rights to employment equality.
Although such discriminatory instances are not uncommon in this country, what happens to the new government in a supposedly new political era couldn’t have done more harm to the LGBT community.
Discrimination against these people in the past could be largely attributed to the conservative attitude and religious policies of the former BN administration.
LGBT individuals have always been loyal supporters of Pakatan Harapan because of its relatively liberal image and pledges of reform.
Unfortunately they do not see any change but a new damage thanks to Numan Afifi.
Moreover, as the youngest member of the new government, Syed Saddiq is widely expected to possess forward-thinking attitude.
Where this is concerned, he has failed to catalyze the change but has instead bowed to pressure.
Earlier on, he was the first to oppose the use of Mandarin to issue an official statement by the finance minister, an act that echoes the conservative voices in the country.
Syed Saddiq’s role in the new government should be one that represents progress and liberty. He needs much more than just a refreshing face. He must also have a forward-thinking attitude and loyalty to his own principle to justify the value of his youthfulness.