KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman credits Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s guidance with shaping the work culture he’s adopted in his life and as Youth and Sports minister.
The Muar MP said he had spent considerable time with Dr Mahathir when he worked as a political researcher in his team before the 14th general election and it was there that he saw first-hand how Malaysia’s fourth and seventh prime minister operates.
With Pakatan Harapan’s one year anniversary coming up, Syed Saddiq reflected on how some of Dr Mahathir’s habits and rituals had brushed off on him when he worked late hours on the team.
“As a young person following him around I can get exhausted,” the 26-year-old told a special press conference to mark the anniversary.
“He will go into office no later than 8.30am and leave no sooner than 5.30pm. Then every night there’s a programme which would end at 10pm.
“Then there’s a meeting called after that and you finish at 12am. He (Mahathir) will then wake up at 5am the next day, be out of the house by 7am, we’ll have breakfast together and this is the cycle he repeats every day.
“Weekends are worse because there are more programmes,” he recalled.
One of the habits Syed Saddiq has picked up is the use of a tabung or kitty jar to fine employees who turn up late for work.
He said it was an example adopted by Dr Mahathir to instill discipline and timeliness while learning that one’s actions affect many.
“From the biggest agencies to the smallest we have our tabung whereby every minute you’re late you pay a ringgit,” he said.
“It’s a matter of discipline. As a young minister I do not have the network nor wealth of experience like the others but what I have is discipline, commitment and enthusiasm.
“If they (other ministers) work eight hours I want to work 15, if they sleep eight hours I want to sleep five because I am young and can afford to do so.
“Some people say you need a balance between work and private life. I don’t believe in it. I believe you must be a workaholic and my team is with me on this.”
Syed Saddiq was then asked how much he owed in late fees, which resulted in the room bursting into laughter, to which he replied: “Good question, but I’m not sure.
“I know I’ve been late twice or thrice but I can’t recall exactly how much I owe. We have to check with our secretary general as he’s the one keeping tabs.
“You should see the effect this practice has had on our team. No one wants to be late now. As the saying goes ‘time is gold’.”