BERSATU Youth (Armada) chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman was to have read from a prepared script at a press conference yesterday, one almost exactly like those given to others who left the party recently.
He was supposed to criticise Bersatu chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad and challenge the 92-year-old former prime minister to a debate.
He was to have said that Dr Mahathir only wanted to promote his son, Mukhriz.
“They said they will prepare everything. I just had to read it. I would have to then challenge Dr Mahathir and Mukhriz to a debate and if they didn’t agree, I would do a ‘Nothing to Hide’ forum,” Syed Saddiq told The Malaysian Insight in an interview last night.
Syed Saddiq yesterday revealed that he had been offered RM5 million by a senior Najib aide to study at Oxford University on a RM400,000 scholarship. The offer also included funds to start debate schools around the country, which he would lead.
He was to have held the press conference at the Seri Pan Pacific Hotel, next to the Umno headquarters in the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
He held the press conference as scheduled, but turned the tables on those who made him the offer with his expose.
In his interview, Syed Saddiq said this was not the first time he had been offered a scholarship to pursue graduate studies at Oxford.
Bersatu Youth (Armada) chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman says he has evidence of bribery but will only use it when he is threatened. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Hasnoor Hussain, October 3, 2017.
Last year, after Oxford had offered him a scholarship worth almost £70,000 (RM392,000) to study public policy, he said a politician came to offer him more money to pursue his studies.
“The first time, a politician came to see me was around June 2016 and offered me RM500,000 to continue my studies.
“The second time he came with a businessman between November and December 2016,” he said.
“That was when it was suggested that I would be given RM5 million in grants for the debate schools I wanted to start.
“Last Wednesday, they met me again and said this was the final window. They knew that classes at Oxford begin next week and I must either accept the offer or the deal’s off.”
A first tranche of RM500,000 would be paid to him after the press conference, he said, and the remaining RM4.5 million would be paid in the form of grants for the debate schools he wanted to start.
Syed Saddiq wanted to start debate schools in his home state of Johor and other parts of Malaysia a few years back when he was still a law student.
“They said the schools could be started by my friends and I could take over the operations after I completed my graduate studies in Oxford.”
The offer, however, did not require him to quit Bersatu and join any other party, he said.
Syed Saddiq said he did not accept the offer immediately but turned to his close friends and parents for advice.
“Most of them said that I should take up the offer and go. But I hadn’t decided yet.”
The International Islamic University law graduate said he only decided to reject the offer after sending out the press invitations on Sunday afternoon.
“But I did not tell anyone what I decided. Not my parents and not my friends. Not even the Bersatu leaders.
“I was also told not to take any call or see anyone after sending out the invitations. They had wanted me to stay in Seri Pan Pacific but I turned them down and stayed at home instead.”
Who are ‘they’?
During the press conference, Syed Saddiq said those who approached him were sent by an aide close to Najib.
But when pressed during interview to identify the people who approached him, Syed Saddiq said he could not reveal this information now.
“When I asked who had sent them, one of them gave a name linked to the prime minister. But I have never met the person before.”
Syed Saddiq named the aide during the press conference yesterday. The Malaysian Insight is attempting to verify this and have sent questions to the aide’s press officer. The press officer has not answered The Malaysian Insight’s queries.
Syed Saddiq said he has audio recordings of the conversations and “other” proof that the offer did take place.
“But I can’t share it now. I will only share the evidence if I am threatened.”
Final straw was threats to my family, says Armada chief
He refused to go into details about the threats and stressed they did not involve anything illegal concerning his family members.
At the risk of making more enemies, the 25-year-old founding member of Bersatu yesterday decided to expose the offer of RM5 million to leave Malaysia for a period to pursue graduate studies at Oxford, which he said was made by a senior aide of Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“They tried to get to people close to me because they know that money alone would not change my mind,” Syed Saddiq told The Malaysian Insight at the Bersatu headquarters last night.
The Youth chief said his family could be embarrassed if the secret became public knowledge. But he warned that it would backfire on them if they did it.
“It’s not like I slept with anyone anyway. But it would harm my family. If they went ahead and did it, it would destroy their lives,” the law graduate said.
“How low can you go by trying to destroy one’s family to achieve political ends?”
Syed Saddiq was explaining why he had not gone to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission immediately after he was offered RM5 million to take up graduate studies in Oxford University.
Although the offer was not illegal, he said he had audio recordings and other proof that it did take place. He said he would reveal the proof if threatened.
At a press conference yesterday, Syed Saddiq said he was offered RM5 million to continue his studies. In return, he would have to read a script criticising Bersatu chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He was also explaining why he chose to pretend to accept the offer and then reveal it during his press conference yesterday held at the Seri Pan Pacific Hotel, next to the Umno headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
Syed Saddiq said the venue was chosen for him.
Asked who paid for the conference room, he said: “I had to pay RM1,800 for an hour’s use of the room. I was supposed to be compensated for it. But I don’t think I will now be paid”.
When asked if he was ready for repercussions, Syed Saddiq said he cannot live in fear.
“I have taken some extra precautions, such as not walking around alone but I’m prepared for it. We cannot live in fear forever.”
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT