PETALING JAYA: Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman was not even born when Malaysia last lifted the Thomas Cup title in May 1992.
But the vibrant and dynamic Syed Saddiq is now the new Youth and Sports Minister and hopes are high that Malaysia will end its long wait for a first Olympic gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo under his leadership.
Syed Saddiq was sworn in as the 18th Youth and Sports Minister yesterday while Steven Sim Chee Keong, the MP for Bukit Mertajam, was named his deputy.
The Johor-born’s appointment to a full minister’s role under the new Pakatan Harapan government is historic in itself as he is the youngest minister to hold such a position. He will only be 26 on Dec 6.
Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was the previous youngest when he was appointed as Culture, Youth and Sports Minister at the age of 33 in 1986.
The youngest of four children, Syed Saddiq admitted he has big shoes to fill in taking over from previous Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Under Khairy, Malaysia celebrated their best-ever outing at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 returning with four silvers and one bronze medal.
Last year, Malaysia also basked in glory of having world champions in several sports apart from becoming runaway overall winners at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August.
“I do have heavy responsibilities to shoulder but I believe I can do this and achieve things with the support of everyone from the ministry working together as a team,” said Syed Saddiq, who is a diehard football fan.
“The voices of the young have been heard with my appointment. The youths in this country will not be neglected. They are the ones who decide the future of this country and it’s a recognition from the government of my appointment.”
The law graduate from International Islamic University, recently turned down a second offer from Oxford University to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Policy.
The tall and quick-witted Syed Saddiq was also a legend in the debating community before he entered the political world, having won Asia’s Best Speaker award at the Asian British Parliamentary (ABP) Debating Championship three times.
His rise in the Malaysian political landscape came about after he won the Muar parliamentary constituency in the country’s 14th general election, beating Barisan Nasional’s incumbent candidate Datuk Seri Razali Ibrahim, who was a former Youth and Sports deputy minister from 2009-2013.
Datuk Seri Abdul Azim Mohd Zabidi, who is chef de mission of the Malaysian contingent to the Asian Games in Indonesia next month, welcomed Syed Saddiq’s appointment.
“I think it’s the most appropriate choice bearing in mind his age and vitality,” said Azim.
“We look forward to working with Syed Saddiq and hope to get his full support especially with the Asian Games in Indonesia just over a month away.
“There are funding matters still on hold and we hope to meet soon as it requires his approval,” said Azim, who is also the National Sports Institute (NSI) chairman and Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) deputy president.
A total of 13 ministers and 23 deputies received their letters of appointment from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V yesterday.
Name: Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman
Posts: First term Member of Parliament for Muar
Johor Youth Chief of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia
Birth date: Dec 6, 1992
Birth place: Pulai, Johor Baru
Education: Royal Military College
Alma mater: International Islamic University Malaysia
Favourite club: Manchester United
Previous Youth and Sports Ministers
1. Tunku Abdul Rahman 1964-1966
2. Senu Abdul Rahman 1966-1969
3. Hamzah Abu Samah 1969-1973
4. Ali Ahmad 1973-1978
5. Abdul Samad Idris 1978-1980
6. Mokhtar Hashim 1980-1983
7. Anwar Ibrahim 1983-1984
8. Sulaiman Daud 1984-1986
9. Najib Razak 1986-1990
10. Annuar Musa 1990-1993
11. Abdul Ghani Othman 1993-1995
12. Muhyiddin Yassin 1995-1999
13. Hishammuddin Hussein 1999-2004
14. Azalina Othman Said 2004-2008
15. Ismail Sabri Yaakob 2008-2009
16. Ahmad Shabery Cheek 2009-2013
17. Khairy Jamaluddin 2013-2018