by Ista Kyra Sharmugam
The Malaysian Insider
2 March 2016
Fed up with the government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Asia’s top debater Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and 24 other youths have put their names to a statement rejecting the current leadership.
They have also formed a group called “Challenger”, which stands for “Change Led by the Young Generation” and have just launched their Facebook page.
The 25 comprise student representatives and youth leaders from various local and international universities, with Syed Saddiq as the spokesman.
“We have lost faith in Datuk Seri Najib and his allies, as their actions have jeopardised and will sacrifice the future of Malaysia.
“Our love for Malaysia is unparalleled. It is therefore our duty to speak up against those who seek to wreck our beloved country apart.
“We, the generation that will inherit the leadership of this country, have an obligation to save the future from the present,” Syed Saddiq said in the statement posted on Challenger’s Facebook page.
The group members claim to be politically non-partisan and say they are united against Najib’s administration due to “gross mishandling” of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) crisis and investigations into the state-owned investment firm.
“This crisis transcends other cases of corruption as it involves a consistent assault upon Malaysia’s pillars of governance,” the group said, and listed as concerns the transfer of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigators, unexpected replacement of the attorney-general and the promotion of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that caused a delay to the panel’s probe into 1MDB.
“The media has not been left out from this assault. The Edge, Sarawak Report, Medium and recently, The Malaysian Insider have all been suspended due to their critical reporting on 1MDB and the prime minister’s alleged corruption scandal,” their statement added.
Syed Saddiq, 22, told The Malaysian Insider that Challenger was not unlike G25, the group of prominent and influential Malays that included educationists and former civil servants, who advocate moderation in religion and reforms for good governance.
“It is however, purely coincidental that we have started with a total 25 members.
“We decided to group up and were hastily formed last Monday. More youth leaders are expected to join,” he said in a phone interview.
He said Challenger plans to speak up on matters related to the country’s direction and would hold various awareness programmes.
“We will be discussing these among members soon,” he said.
Syed Saddiq came into the media limelight last year after a social media post in which he called Najib a “national disgrace”.
The three-time Asia debate champion was once a Perdana Fellow to Minister at the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri but said he was not a member of Umno or any party.
He has his eye on joining politics, however, and told The Malaysian Insider in an interview in November that he would decide on a party after assessing the current political situation and party leaders.
He won Asia’s Best Speaker Award at the 2015 Asian British Parliamentary Debating Championship last October.
His two earlier number one titles were won at the 2015 United Asian Debating Championship and the ABP Debating Championship in 2012. – March 2, 2016.