‘E-sports can unite Malaysians’: minister Saddiq, 26, defends gaming, and likely becomes first top official ever to say ‘humongous’

Malaysia’s youngest government minister, Syed Saddiq, has made a passionate defence of e-sports as a beneficial pursuit for society, saying gaming is one aspect of life that can unite all Malaysians.

Speaking at a press conference for the Kuala Lumpur Major Dota 2 tournament, the 26-year-old Malaysian youth and sports minister happily embraced a question from one of the reporters at a packed news conference on how he would answer those who say e-sports is a waste of time.

Saddiq, a three-time Asia British Parliamentary Debate champion, answered in his usual eloquent, heartfelt style, saying the future benefits of e-sports for Malaysia are “humongous”.

“There are those who say e-sports is a waste of time, you get addicted and you are not productive, become failures in life. I’m sure all of you in front of me here are not failures,” he said to the gathered media and onlookers, who let out a loud cheer.

“I still remember the time when people said that due to the advancement of internet and computer, there’s no benefit etcetera, etcetera, but look where we are at today.

“Usually things that lead to the greatest of benefits will come with strong resistance in the beginning. But when the community is united, is loud and dare to speak their minds, then people will listen.

“I’m trying my best in whatever way I can to [move e-sports] forward . People would say kaki main game [he’s a gaming addict], Saddiq is menteri gamer [minister of gamers]. I don’t care,” he said to another loud cheer from the throng.

“I mean, I respect their opinion. But to them I say we have such a vibrant community in front of us, I mean ... in front of me are largely those who are below 30 years old or so.

“We are also such a vibrant and multiracial community, we see people from all races, the e-sports community is indeed one that can unite Malaysians.”

Malaysia – mostly comprising Malays, Chinese and Indians – is one of Southeast Asia’s most progressive e-sports countries, with the government pumping in millions of dollars to boost the various gaming disciplines.

Recently, Saddiq said the government would inject RM10 million (HK$18.7 million) into the development of e-sports in Malaysia and asked corporations to respond in kind.

The first to match that figure was Min-Liang Tan, the billionaire chief of Singapore-based e-sports hardware maker Razer.

Saddiq said it shows that e-sports were bringing in revenue to the country.

“For those who say e-sports cannot bring any benefit, I mean Malaysia at the moment is ranked 21st [in the world] in gaming revenue. We bring money to Malaysia,” he said.

“We have a thriving, multiracial, young e-sports community, on top of that, the drive to love IT, technology, advancement ... looking towards the future, it’s humongous, so to them I’d say, in everything in life, there will be resistance.

“But as long as the community is united, as long as we are forward-thinking, I think in the future, five to 10 years time, when the benefits become a lot clearer, these sceptics will be proven wrong, and our efforts today will be realised, inshaAllah (God willing).”

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