Zaid Ibrahim – The relevant Malay

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

I don't pretend to be a man of the people. But I do try to be a man for the people.”

– Senator Gaius Gracchus in ‘Gladiator’

COMMENT | (Full disclosure, I compiled and edited Zaid Ibrahim’s latest collection of essays, ‘Zaidgeist: Building Bridges for a Greater Malaysia’. Of great assistance in this endeavour was ZI Publications, which in case you were not aware has many interesting titles in their portfolio).

Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim defines who an irrelevant Malay is here - “They are those who talk a lot about the ‘right way’ and the ‘correct way’, and they want us to think that they belong to that category of ‘right and correct’ people. They use public spaces under their command (because of their positions in the government) and they usually make pronouncements that attract headlines in news media and amongst Facebook users. They think that because they are able to issue sensational statements, they must be making some kind of impact on society and the country. They probably think they grow in importance as a result.”

A young Malay activist once said to me, if all Malay opposition politicians were like Zaid, the opposition would not be able to take on Umno but at least we would have Malay politicians who you could believe would lead Malaysia to a brighter future. Malay politicians like Zaid face that dilemma.

Whenever some Umno hack claims that Zaid is out of touch with the Malay community - which I suppose means those from the rural heartlands - I have to ask, what does out of touch mean, exactly?...

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