Commentary Politics

Only Zaid knows Zaid



Written by Aziz Hassan

April 19, 2018.

Recollections & Reflections – A commentary

HE is no doubt one maverick of a politician and by now, after being active in politics for 18 years, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim should be familiar with its ways. But is he?

There have been many such characters in Malaysian politics since independence in 1957. Some survive from one administration to another while others drop by the wayside. Much depends on your personality, how you deal with others and what those above you think of you. The ones who survive longer than others are those who know how to adapt, giving way when that is expected but also standing their ground when this too is the call.

While Zaid appears to be firm in his beliefs, his principles, he also sounds like someone who is looking for the perfection that fits into his thinking… an idealism that doesn’t exist, not even in the more established democracies of the West.

His political career started very well, becoming head of the Umno Kota Bharu division just a year after he had been accepted as a party member in 2000.

By 2004 Zaid was elected a member of parliament for the same area, quite a feat for still a new party member when there is usually a long queue of long-serving hopefuls waiting to be chosen as a candidate.

But in the next general elections in 2008 Umno decided that it no longer wanted him and Zaid was duly dropped from the list. This was nevertheless not the death-knell for him, for Zaid was appointed a minister through a senatorship in 2008 when Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was prime minister. That lasted just about seven months, Zaid resigning due to differences over how the government had handled a few fundamental issues.

Thereafter began the next phase of his political journey, leaping from party to party, the way fellow Kelantanese Datuk Ibrahim Ali did. In the last nine years Zaid has been with three parties – PKR, Kita and DAP.

The most ticklish was what happened when he headed Kita, a party he renamed after joining Akim in December 2010 to use a shortcut to eventually leading it. This too didn’t seem to work for him. Zaid was left with little choice but to leave a party he had led! Imagine that.

It was the DAP next from February last year but since a few months ago you could anticipate what could possibly happen next.

When no offer was forthcoming from the party for him to contest the 14th general elections due on May 9, Zaid spoke out rather dejectedly, not once but twice.

His latest rant is to label the party he last year wanted to convince the Malays was not a chauvinistic Chinese party as being Chinese.

Zaid said he was offered a plump seat by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chaired by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the foe Zaid decided to embrace sometime in 2015 during the Bersih rally. Zaid was to ask all Malaysians to rally behind Mahathir.

Maybe Pribumi Bersatu did offer Zaid a seat but the party itself has remained silent on this publicly so for now we will never know.

Based on his statements in the last few months, it shouldn’t surprise many if Zaid dumps the DAP.

Despite what it says, most Malaysians would agree that the DAP is indeed a Chinese party.

Look at its leadership since being formed in 1965. Look at its membership, the issues it has fought for, the composition of its senior leadership, its candidates through 11 general elections and the constituencies it has contested in and you’ll have the answers.

And you’ll be hard pressed to find enough compelling reasons why it should be moving its candidates around in each GE other than an ego trip to prove to the world that it has more support from the Chinese compared to the MCA and Gerakan.

But Zaid, the politician with 18 years’ experience, has only just realised that.





About the author

Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.