Syed Saddiq: I will not abandon principles for TMJ’s sake

Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman speaks during an interview in Putrajaya April 23, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman speaks during an interview in Putrajaya April 23, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

PUTRAJAYA, April 23 — Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman today said the disdain Johor Crown Prince Tunku Ismail Ibrahim has shown him was due to political and business requests he has had to turn down.

The Youth and Sports Minister said Tunku Ismail, who is also known as TMJ, had made him feel uncomfortable to the point where he had to refuse the Crown Prince’s requests or risk abandoning his principles.

“There were specific demands he made before the 14th general election (GE14) that were political in nature that I could not fulfill,” Syed Saddiq told a press conference in conjunction with Pakatan Harapan’s first year in power.

“It made me feel immensely uncomfortable and I decided to stick to my principles. If you noticed the day I announced my candidacy in Muar he released the open letter asking Johoreans and Malaysians to not jump ship and to stick to Umno and Barisan Nasional.”

Syed Saddiq was asked about his deteriorating relationship with the Crown Prince of his home state and how he manages the barrage of criticism hurled his way on social media.

He said after Pakatan Harapan had won in the general election last May, he had met Tunku Ismail twice when again requests were made.

“Again some demands were made which I could not fulfill as I personally believe in not interfering in business and bringing specific demands that may rattle the sports scene.

“My suggestion, if you want to look deep into it, is to look closely at the hosting of Manny Pacquaio’s boxing match.”

Syed Saddiq said that there were demands for a last-minute cancellation of the fight between eight division world champion Manny ‘Pac Man’ Pacquaio and Argentinian Lucas Matthysse on July 15 in Kuala Lumpur last year.

He said cancelling the fight would have caused a diplomatic crisis as six ministers and the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, were attending the match.

The fight was also broadcasted live around the globe by more than 100 television and cable networks.

“Ask the organisers, ask Pacquaio and ask Datuk Zaiton (Othman) as myself and her had to make an audience with TMJ to be courteous and explain things,” he said, referring to Sports Commissioner Zaiton.

Syed Saddiq did not explain why Tunku Ismail had wanted the fight cancelled.

“Certain requests which I simply could not defend were asked of me and from there the situation didn’t go that well,” Syed Saddiq said.

“Being young, I personally believe if I don’t stick to my principles, I would lose myself very early on and for what? To appeal to specific groups?

“My duty and reason for joining politics is to clean Malaysia and its politics up and to ensure youth interests are represented.”

Syed Saddiq said he was now busy working on making sure he reduces the voting age to 18, something he puts at the top of priorities before the middle of his five year term.

“It’s one among many other things I’d like to accomplish especially before the mid-terms,” said the 26-year-old.

“It’s a structural reform that will put young people on the national landscape like never before.”