Saturday, March 5, 2016

Asia’s top debater joins veteran politicians in ‘save Malaysia’ movement

The newly formed youth group Challenger will criticise whoever it thinks necessary, says its founder and spokesman Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman. The debate champion said the group was not backed by any politician or political party, and was not formed to make money but to be part of efforts to create a better Malaysia. "We have no funders. And maybe when the time comes, we will create a mechanism to ensure that all the money that comes in will be accounted for. "I will also make sure that the source is revealed to the public. We want to be able to criticise whoever we think necessary," said the three-time Asian debate winner and former Perdana Fellow participant under Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Law Nancy Shukri. Syed Saddiq had a short stint serving under Nancy and left the programme as he was vocal in criticising the government and did not want this to put her in a bad light. Perdana Fellows Programme is an initiative providing exceptionally talented young Malaysians first-hand experience in matters of national governance at the highest levels of the federal government. On Challengers, Syed Saddiq said the group was formed by former students and students of Malaysia between the ages of 18 and 20s. "Some of them I've never met in person. We communicated mostly through the message platform and social media. We been brainstorming since December. "We started only with 15 and later the number grew to 25. And right now after the issuance of our first statement on Monday, we now have 70 in the group." He said the group was student oriented and they were passionate and representing the youths from both sides, government and the opposition. He would be inviting more to join as the group progressed. "First we would like more to join us. We have a few plans that are in the pipeline which we can't disclose just yet." Syed Saddiq is already gaining prominence for himself in political circles. He has declared himself decidedly anti-Najib and crafted Challenger's first public statement on the same matter. is-against-najib At Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's press conference yesterday on the "Citizens' Declaration" that included a call for the removal of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak from office, Syed Saddiq was the emcee of the event where he gave the closing speech. He spoke about Dr Mahathir's "relentless attempts" to save Malaysia. "When people say we should not fight, I say if a 90-year-old retired prime minister can still actively fight for the future of our own country, joined by those who are of the age of our fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers fighting for our future. "Then there's absolutely no excuse for us and just say we should not do anything because we are simply saying our future be determined by the rest and we are not doing anything about it." But just how did Syed Saddiq, 23, is a final year International Islamic University Malaysia student and winners of 2015 Asian British Parliamentary Debating Championship, Asia's Overall Best Speaker awards at the 2015 United Asian Debating Championship in Bali, Indonesia and the 2012 ABP in Jakarta, Indonesia was invited to be part of the 58 to sign in the "Citizens' Declaration"? "It was a last minute invitation. I was surprised and it took me few minutes before I said yes. "The reason why I did not say yes immediately was because I thought about what the Special Branch officers and my university management officer had advised me." He added that the police had advised him to stop inviting trouble. This was after he issued a statement on behalf of Challenger against Najib. "I told them that if the upper echelon were worried and concerned over the voice of 25 youths in Challengers, that means there was something wrong." At 23, he is the youngest among the 58 individuals who signed the "Citizens' Declaration". Syed Saddiq said he felt he had to accept the invitation to the press conference because the country needed change. The debater, who dreams of opening a public speaking and debate school in his home state Johor, also wants to be a politician someday. He had set a five-year deadline to join politics and admitted he had yet to decide on which party, adding that he would assess the political scenario and leaders first. – March 5, 2016.]]>

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