Syed Saddiq’s “Arwah Haji Karmaine” Gaffe

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Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman’s gaffe in referring to his party colleague and Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate while campaigning for the Tanjung Piai by-election recently has provided much grist for their political rivals.

But Karmaine Sardini, the 66-year-old candidate, advised his competitors not to play up the youth and sports minister’s slip of the tongue in addressing him as “arwah Haji Karmaine”, which translates into English as “the late Haji Karmaine”.

“It was a mistake, it’s alright. There is no issue. Nothing to it.

“Sometimes we also say things wrongly by mistake, a slip of the tongue. But for me it’s no problem at all,” he was quoted by broadcaster Astro Awani as saying during a walkabout in the Tanjung Piai parliamentary seat.


Videos of Syed Saddiq uttering the Malay adjective to describe the Bersatu competitor in the six-way battle has been circulating widely on social media, with some suggesting it to be a precognition.

The by-election was called following the death of Tanjung Piai MP Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik from heart complications on September 21. He was only 43 years old.

The Opposition Barisan Nasional and PAS picked Dr Farid’s predecessor for the seat to run for office again and have made much noise about Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng’s relative youth at age 55 compared to Karmaine.

However, PH and Karmainie have maintained a sanguine outlook at the criticisms, highlighting his experience and background as an imam instead.

The PH candidate was also reported by Awani to be defend the ruling coalition against its critics playing the religious card and claiming Islamic interests to have eroded in the past one year under the new government.

Karmaini said the Opposition’s allegation that Muslim welfare were under threat are completely baseless, pointing out that allocations for Islamic matters had instead increased with the agreement of the DAP, a PH component party that had been demonised as anti-Islamic.

“That has always been our stand. Whatever change in administration, the religion of Islam is maintained as the federal religion.

“Even the Federal Constitution places Islam in its rightful place. So, I feel there is no issue,” he was quoted saying. – MMO