|Zaid: Stop pitting Malays against non-Malays|
|Nash Rahman & Chan Kok Leong | Mar 14, 08 4:33pm|
|Former Umno leader Zaid Ibrahim has called on politicians - both government and opposition - to stop fueling racial sentiments in the wake of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition's unprecedented election setback.|
�The political landscape has shifted so much and it's a dangerous time for mischievous people and racists in this country to exploit,� he told Malaysiakini in an exclusive interview.
�At this stage, when it's still a very volatile, (with) our ethnic relations not good and national unity non-existent, both sides should avoid political grandstanding and emotive outbursts.�
Zaid, who was not picked to defend his Kota Bahru parliament seat, revealed that he had received a lot of SMSes lamenting that the Malays had lost political power.
�And the mainstream media are not helping matters either when they say that the Malays have lost the �Ketuanan Melayu�. We've just lost an election, for God's sake. And there is another election coming.
�Don't get emotional. We've another four years. If the Barisan Nasional does its job then we can win again.�
Guan Eng�s NEP remark �provocative�
On the other hand, Zaid ticked off DAP leaders for their �provocative� statements.
�I find it very shocking to see today that DAP is being very arrogant too. First day in office - Lim Guan Eng ( chief minister) made this statement about NEP,� he said.
"This is not the time to stir everyone's feelings. Our race relations are still fragile and those elected should just stop talking and get on with the job.�
Lim, soon after he was sworn as the first DAP chief minister in state, declared that his government would do away with New Economic Policy, an affirmative action programme for the country�s bumiputeras.
�A good leader should be able to say the good part of NEP, which is to help the marginalised group, should be continued. The NEP which helps selected individuals to enrich themselves will be stopped. That's all he should have said, not provocative statements,� said Zaid.
�This is something which Guan Eng should be mindful of. TV3, the newspapers and the radio stations must also stop pitting the Malays against the non-Malays. It is so dangerous.�
The following is the first of a two-part interview:
Malaysiakini: What do you think of this elections from Umno's perspective? Some component parties who have seen their leaders like lose in Malay-majority areas, feel that Umno played a part in the defeat.
Zaid: In the first place, you can't blame anybody. When you lose, you blame somebody else and it's the natural thing to do. But I don't think it matters very much anymore.
What is important is to understand the reason for the loss. Proper evaluation and introspection of the issues and see what happened to Barisan (Nasional). That is better than playing the blaming game. It doesn't get you anywhere.
My second point is that, generally, whether it is Malay, Chinese and Indian, Malaysians have rejected the kind of leadership that you see in the last couple of years. They are very arrogant, very arrogant.
And I'm not just talking about Umno leaders only. MCA, MIC and the other leaders are guilty too and I think that people don't like arrogance.
I find it very shocking to see today that DAP is being very arrogant too. First day in office - Lim Guan Eng ( chief minister) made this statement about NEP.
He should just get on with the job and show justice to everyone. At this stage, when it's still a very volatile, (with) our ethnic relations not good and national unity non-existent, both sides should avoid political grandstanding and emotive outbursts.
Just get on with it and do what is right for the people of this country.
So to me, DAP's stance is another act of political immaturity and it's very regrettable. So, I hope that Anwar Ibrahim as leader of the opposition can iron these issues out and not let it get out of hand.
There are no words to describe what has happened. The political landscape has shifted so much and it's a dangerous time for mischievous people and racists in this country to exploit.
I've been receiving a lot of SMSes. And the mainstream media are not helping matters either when they say that the Malays have lost the �Ketuanan Melayu�. We've just lost an election, for God's sake. And there is another election coming.
Don't get emotional. We've another four years. If the Barisan Nasional does its job then we can win again.
CM Lim Guan Eng declared that he plans to end NEP on his first day at work. Do we still need NEP?
It's not whether we need NEP or not.
NEP means many things to many people. It's a very emotive expression. For the ordinary Malay, NEP is his right and his whole life. It's already imbued in him. For ( Chief Minister) Lim Guan Eng to come and say that he will do away with it is very insensitive.
He should have said the positive side of NEP will be continued, which is to eradicate poverty in . The part of NEP which supports and gives privileges to the poor will be maintained. The bad part of NEP, where people just get the benefits and abuse their positions just because they are Malays, will be discontinued. That's all Guan Eng needs to say. This is what Tun Dr Ismail (Abdul Rahman) said 30 years ago, so why can't he repeat that?
A good policy serves everybody. So why does he need to be provocative? Just say that "we intend to implement good policies".
A good leader should be able to say the good part of NEP, which is to help the marginalised group, should be continued. The NEP which helps selected individuals to enrich themselves will be stopped. That's all he should have said, not provocative statements.
This is something which Guan Eng should be mindful of. TV3, the newspapers and the radio stations must also stop pitting the Malays against the non-Malays. It is so dangerous.
This is just an election. You lose today and you come back in five years time. It's not the end of the world and don't inflame people's feelings as our unity is suspect. Both sides should stop doing this.
What do you think of PKR's Malaysian Economic Agenda?
PKR has just taken power from Barisan in some states. I think their policy is okay and a lot of people appreciate it but they can't expect people to change their mindsets overnight.
The Barisan of old was very good but the recent one is ignorant and arrogant.
The euphoria of opposition's victory will only last two months. The moment it starts doing things wrong and talk too much then it's a sign of things going wrong. I would urge them to do things, talk less and be mindful that we are in a delicate situation.
There's no need to articulate too much as this is not a lecture hall where everyone is on the same wavelength. We are talking to people in the street who may not understand too much. So, just go do it!
If the policies work, people will see this. There is really no need to articulate too much in public.
Take for instance the problem of public housing. I'm from Kota Bahru and similar to the place I'm from, there is also the urban poor in . Whoever can resolve this problem will win the next election.
Do you think that opposition can do a good job governing the states?
I believe they can.
I was skeptical when PAS took over Kelantan in 1990 and didn't think they could last a term. Looking at the kind of revenue they were getting, how were they going to pay salaries, lest run a state. But they have administered the state for some 18 years already and have earned themselves another five years. I'm now very careful about discounting others.
Having said that, I think that Khalid Ibrahim should do a good job in Selangor. He was a good manager before and should be able to run Selangor efficiently so long as politics doesn't get in the way.
As for Guan Eng in , I'm not so sure. Although, his job is theoretically easier as there is a wider Chinese base there, but all eyes will be on him and he will have to be very careful.
I don't know much about Perak but I'm sure Kelantan will be alright. They said that PAS without Nik Aziz couldn't survive but they have performed okay without him.
The challenge now is for everyone. Be it the state or federal governments, no one can rest on their laurels anymore. The demands are now much higher and the people are expecting much more from their governments. There is a greater need now for transparency then ever before.
Take for instance the cabinet. Now that the opposition is bigger in numbers in Parliament, more questions will be asked. And Pak Lah's new cabinet cannot be sending parliamentary secretaries to answer for them anymore.
It's going to be tougher but it is good. The interest of the people will be better served now when everybody is made more accountable. The worst case is when you say "I don't care what you say", something we witnessed in last couple of years.
Now, everyone is under a microscope and will be more focused. I think the bigger opposition is also a test of our political maturity and I hope that everyone will try to make it work.
They were now have to make changes in Parliament. The days of shouting "Bodoh" and "Monkey" cannot work anymore. If the system is to work, the Standing Orders will have to be revisited, the speaker has to look at things differently and more time will also have to be allocated for questions.
At the state and federal level, the menteri besar will have to work with the federal government. Otherwise, you can't get big projects done.
Are there any positives from this elections?
I like the idea of a very strong opposition because democracy cannot work without some dissent. The only way this BN government can do a better job is with a strong opposition.
The people now have a choice between A or B. If you don't like A, you pick B. So that would be good for the long-term survival and stability of democracy.
This election has also taught the Umno leaders and the BN too that they can no longer rely on slogans. This is a lesson as people don't believe in slogans anymore.
You can't have photos of you hugging children when the people see you as arrogant and you say things that hurt their feelings. This is good as the leaders now know that the people are watching and listening and that they will be made accountable when the time arrives.
I'm very positive of the future long as both sides learn to accept their losses and victories graciously. There is no need to put a spin on this and say that the Malays are in danger. We just lost one election.
Equally, the opposition shouldn't be so arrogant and just concentrate on what is important. Get on with the work, talk less and we will have a thriving democracy.
How will the general election results affect Umno elections, which is due this year?
I'm sure there will be some impact but will there be one (contest for top posts)?
The last time Umno had an election for the top two posts was when Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah challenged and lost to Dr Mahathir Mohamed in 1987. That was what we call an election.
But then Dr Mahathir, to make sure he stayed in power, used the power he had got to destroy the judiciary. And he used all his powers to kill Umno. That was the last time�
So for 20 years, Umno has not had a proper choice of leaders. They are all anointed and decided. It's almost like a dynasty.
Since then, members have not had the opportunity to speak up. And the leaders did not get the feedback.
This has resulted in a defeat like in the last elections where when the emperor has no clothes but no one will say it.
If there is one lesson to learn from this election is to put back democracy into Umno. Let Umno be the party of the old days.
It was not perfect but Tunku (Abdul Rahman) was more open about things and Tun Abdul Razak's days saw elections among small groups of people.
But would Umno change as a result of this elections? I don't know. I hope that they take the positive side of things and regroup and articulate what are the issues affecting us all. Slogans don't count anymore.
For example, if people say they don't want corruption, they don't want corruption. Putting on a button which says "Tak Nak Rasuah" is not going to help.
You can't say everything is to defend Umno's interest. We have to identify those interests and how we are going to defend them. How do you make sure that the bumiputeras are going to be taken care of and not be abused.
But a party decided by dynasty rule where an emperor decides everything is not going to work.
As much as it is a major setback, it can be reversed. They still have to wait to see how DAP performs in a coalition. At the rate they are going, they are not doing very well. It's still early days.
The strength of BN is on Umno. Umno must lead by example and MIC will also have democracy. And then MIC can't say that only Samy Vellu can lead. That sort of arrogance irritates people. At least MCA limits their leaders to two terms. That is at least some recognition that leaders must change.
I hope this new phase will be utilised by the party to find leaders who are clean, who have the Malays' interest at heart and keep the country together.
I like to see BN succeed. If Barisan fails in the next election and opposition gets 200 seats, there will be abuse of power again.
Everyone should just accept the decision and learn to cooperate for the good of the people. Forget things like "winner takes all". There is no such thing anymore. We have to learn how to give and take.
|CM reassures Malays on rights|
Mar 14, 08
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today told Malays that their rights will be protected, ahead of a street protest over concerns they could be sidelined.
Lim Guan Eng from DAP was sworn in on Tuesday after a stunning performance in weekend polls which handed and three other states to a three-party opposition alliance.
Lim, who will govern one of the nation's richest states and the only one dominated by ethnic Chinese, said the DAP would not alienate any community.
"There have been all sorts of rumours that we are going to do this and that," he said after talks with Malay-based civil society groups.
"But I have told them that this government will be a friend to everybody and they understand this," he said.
However, at least 1,000 people defied a police ban to gather outside Lim's office in Komtar after Friday prayers, chanting, "Long live Malays. Malays will not disappear from ," a witness said.
The group, led by senior officials of Umno - which has dominated Malaysian politics for half a century - dispersed an hour later.
Protest leaders said they were angry over Lim's plans to dismantle the New Economic Policy (NEP), a decades-old system of positive discrimination for Malays.
"Any decision taken against the spirit of the NEP will be seen as an attempt to marginalise the Malays," said Umno division chief Musa Sheikh Fadzir.
Malays in overlooked
The opposition, including the DAP but also the conservative Islamic party and the multiracial PKR, have said they want to sideline the NEP because it fosters cronyism and corruption.
Opposition figurehead Anwar Ibrahim slammed Umno for organising the rally.
"Umno failed to protect the interest of the Malays and that is why they were rejected in the election," he said, adding that Malays backed the new stance in .
"Umno has been in power so long, why didn't they help solve Malay problems in the state?"
Azmi Abdul Hamid, the president of Malay welfare group Teras, said the civil society groups were happy with their meeting with Lim.
"We are glad to have received a reassurance that the interests of the Malays in will not be neglected," he said.
"The Malays in have been overlooked for far too long, including during the previous state government, and we hope all this will change."
Lim urged to ignore calls by Umno in to scrap the various million-dollar development projects previously approved in .
"Instead of respecting the outcome of a democratic process they are now sulking and venting their frustration at the people," he said.
Among the projects in the pipeline are a major bridge to connect with the mainland and a monorail transit system.
Daripada Abu Umarah iaitu al-Bara' bin 'Azib radhiallahu anhuma, katanya: "Kita semua diperintah oleh Rasulullah s.a.w. untuk melakukan tujuh perkara, iaitu meninjau orang sakit, mengikuti janazah, menentasymitkan orang yang bersin, menolong orang yang lemah, membantu orang yang teraniaya, meratakan salam dan melaksanakan sumpah."