November 10, 2023
KUALA LUMPUR – It is going to be a long and difficult road ahead for Muda and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who is stepping down as party president after being found guilty of corruption charges, say analysts.
Universiti Malaya’s Dr Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub said the party is likely to experience turbulent days due to Muda’s dependence on a single heavyweight and given its limited support base in the political arena.
“Some people are comparing Syed Saddiq’s situation with that of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (back in the late 1990s), but it is entirely different.
“Firstly, Anwar was at the height of power as deputy prime minister. Secondly, he had a good international presence and thirdly, he was able to mobilise hundreds of thousands of people during the ‘reformasi’ days.
“Syed Saddiq, on the other hand, while he has some good support in the country, is lacking in the other aspects mentioned,” he said yesterday.
Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research senior fellow Azmi Hassan said given that there is no strong icon within Muda, the survival of the party is being questioned.
ALSO READ: Syed Saddiq on a mission to clear his name
“If he fails in his appeal, it means he has to serve the seven-year jail sentence, which is a long enough to kill his political career.
“Muda is too synonymous with Syed Saddiq, he is its only MP. If Syed Saddiq goes down, Muda will too,” he said.
Political analyst Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said although Syed Saddiq could clear the hurdle, the current reality remains that his name has been tainted by yesterday’s guilty verdict.
He pointed out that just like how other prominent leaders, such as former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, had to face criticisms due to their court cases, the same would befall Syed Saddiq.
“The verdict would cause a lot of disappointment among the rakyat, especially the youth, because many people were banking on Syed Saddiq and Muda to be different from the older generation of leaders.
“Based on the verdict, the people will make a simple deduction that money problems (such as bribery and misappropriation) still exist, even among the younger generation,” he said.
Legal expert Prof Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmod said it was unfortunate for a young politician to be in such a situation, especially since the Muar MP has the potential to become a good leader.
Nevertheless, he said Syed Saddiq would remain as an MP while his appeal is pending.
Commenting on the two strokes of the rotan being meted out – the first in the country’s history involving a politician – Nik Ahmad said the sentence was likely due to his young age. “Since he is below the age of 50, he is a person who is capable of receiving the lashes. Other politicians didn’t get the same punishment because they were above the age of 50.
“But, the court has made the decision and moving forward, let the Court of Appeal decide whether the punishment will stand,” Nik Ahmad said.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul said Syed Saddiq’s status as an MP wouls remain unchanged until the exhaustion of his legal means.
“He still has two more courts (Court of Appeal and Federal Court). Until he has exhausted his legal means, it doesn’t affect his position here,” he told the media in Parliament yesterday.
On the same day the verdict was announced, Syed Saddiq said he would vacate his position as president of Muda and his deputy Amira Aisya Abd Aziz would become acting president.
“With this decision, I will not be involved in the discussion on decisions taken in the party. I will continue to uphold the people’s mandate as the sole Muda representative in Parliament as well as my duties as a Muda member,” he said.