KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — Former law minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz has joined his frequent critic, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in expressing his scepticism of the yet-to-be formalised, youth-centric party led by Muar MP, Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman.
In an interview with Malay Mail recently, the Padang Rengas MP branded Syed Saddiq as “naïve” and “not mature” and predicted a bleak future for the latter’s political aspirations.
Nazri said that this was because Syed Saddiq’s party excludes experienced and older politicians, and is simply too exclusive.
He also doubted if its target demographic — youth — would support the idea.
“That’s correct. It won’t work. It won’t work. As (Dr) Mahathir said, it excludes old people. Number two, not all youth will support a youth party.
“All parties have their own youth divisions and Umno Youth is a very strong movement. Do you think they would want to abandon Umno and support this party? No way!” he said.
Nazri also questioned Syed Saddiq’s definition of youth, seeing how his party prioritises only young leaders.
“The third reason is won’t he grow old? What is his definition of youth? Forty years old? Fifty years old? Or is it supposed to be 20-something all the time?
“I think he is just naïve. He got carried away. He won not because of him being a youth leader. It was that tide against Barisan Nasional (BN) at the time.
“If you had fielded a donkey, that donkey would have won too. It was simply a tide,” he said, referring to the 14th general election which ended BN’s almost-seven-decade-long reign in government.
Nazri, who is also a former tourism, arts and culture minister, expressed confidence that Syed Saddiq’s party would fail to impress voters across the board because “you can never get away with just one generation”.
“The fact that they are talking about youth, it’s not inclusive, and because it’s not inclusive, it will not get the support of people across the board.
“How are you going to win if you are too exclusive? That’s why he is dreaming. He is naïve. He is a young boy. He is not mature,” he added.
In an interview with news portal Malaysiakini, Syed Saddiq denied that his youth-centric party will divide Malay voters as claimed by Dr Mahathir.
Instead, the former Bersatu Youth leader told his former mentor that while his yet-to-be-registered party may be led by young people, it is geared towards serving all Malaysians regardless of age and race.
“I am not here [in politics] to only be the servant of the Malays. I’m here to be the servant for all Malaysians. I’m not here just to unite the Malays, but to unite all Malaysians,” Syed Saddiq was quoted as saying in the interview published on Monday.
The 27-year-old stressed that he has “great respect” for Dr Mahathir, but said he disagreed with the 95-year-old’s recent remarks that his youth-centric party will exclude a significant number of Malaysian voters who are older.
Syed Saddiq said that his party is “youth-led” and not “youth-exclusive”.
He added that he believed Malaysia’s strength is in the diversity of its people.
Syed Saddiq was responding to Dr Mahathir’s reported remarks to Malaysiakini last Thursday.
The former prime minister questioned if a youth party could afford to discount older voters at the ballot box and indicated that Syed Saddiq’s new party could split the Malay vote.
Syed Saddiq grabbed the headlines after announcing his intention to form a new youth-based party to focus on a youth agenda after declining to join Dr Mahathir’s new party, Parti Pejuang Tanah Air.
He said his party will be made up of youth, activists, technocrats, professionals, entrepreneurs, modern farmers and civil society leaders, among others.
He also said that it will rely on crowdfunding as well as impose a limit on corporate donations so it is not “enslaved” by anyone.