Tuesday, May 18

Saifuddin eyes ethics, wisdom in communication

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PUTRAJAYA: Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, the new Communications and Multimedia Minister yesterday said moulding a society that values communicating with wisdom and in an ethical manner, will be a focus of the ministry.

People, he said, have to be nurtured to share information that is accurate, with basis and which can be believed.

“There has to be ethics in communication,” he said after the swearing-in of ministers and deputy ministers before Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, at Istana Melawati here.

Asked about his plans moving forward, Saifuddin said he could only decide on the matter after getting a briefing tomorrow from ministry secretary-general Datuk Suriani Ahmad.

He also said that the ministry’s existing mission statement is fine, and added that he will determine whether improvements need to be made or new approaches introduced.

Saifuddin said that in his observation, the ministry is one that has individuals with talent.

When he steps into his office here, the 59-year-old MP for Indera Mahkota (Pahang) will bring with him  the knowledge and proficiency he has garnered not only in government administration but also as a student leader, businessman, university administrator, teacher and editor.

He touts himself as a progressive politician who advocates the idea of New Politics, youth empowerment and social entrepreneurship.

Saifuddin held the post of foreign minister from July 2018 to February this year when the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government collapsed. He left Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in the wake of political developments and aligned himself with Bersatu led by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who has since been appointed the 8th Prime Minister.

Muhyiddin named Saifuddin as the new Communications and Multimedia Minister when he announced the Cabinet line-up yesterday.

Saifuddin was born on Jan 27, 1961, in Temerloh, Pahang, to Abdullah Long and Ramlah Uda, both of whom were teachers. He is one of five siblings.

The young Saifuddin had his early education at Sekolah Rendah Abu Bakar in Mentakab, Pahang, and attended secondary education at The Malay College Kuala Kangsar where he unearthed his oratorical and leadership skills.

He was adjudged the best debater in the Prime Minister’s Challenge Trophy Debate for residential schools in 1980 when he was also the head prefect.

Saifuddin continued to hone his leadership skills as he progressed through university life and earned a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree from Universiti Malaya in 1984. He also holds a Certificate in Management Excellence from Harvard University.

Oratory being a subject close to his heart, Saifuddin founded the debate club at the International Islamic University of Malaysia when he was the senior administrator at the institution from 1985 to 1994.

Besides promoting debate and basketball, Saifuddin has an interest in books, not just reading but also writing them. He has six books to his name, having written on subjects such as New Politics, transformation, democracy, volunteerism and youth empowerment.

Saifuddin has also shared his ideas on various topics through columns in several Malaysian dailies.

Before joining politics, he was president of the Malaysian Youth Council, member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Youth Employment, and consultant of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Saifuddin joined Umno in 1985. In the 12th General Election (GE12) in 2008, he won the Temerloh parliamentary seat for Barisan Nasional (BN). He lost the seat in GE13 but won the Indera Mahkota seat for PKR (under the Pakatan Harapan alliance) in GE14.

He served as the Deputy Minister for Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives in 2008 and 2009, and as the Deputy Minister of Higher Education from 2009 to 2013. He was the Foreign Minister from 2018 to February this year.

Saifuddin is married to Norlin Shamsul Bahri and they have a daughter, Nur Madihah. — Bernama