The good, bad and ugly of Mat Sabu's London talk

Opinion  |  Mariam Mokhtar
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | What's the difference between Mohamad Sabu the opposition politician and Mohamad Sabu, the defence minister?

Answer: Mohamad the minister has lost weight, is turning grey, and is surrounded by a retinue of minders, but inwardly, he is still the same man: full of humility, down-to-earth, factual, calm and as funny as ever.

When Mohamad the former PAS and now Amanah politician visited London a few years ago, he was in the then-opposition coalition.

He stayed in bed and breakfasts, and gave talks, arranged by overseas party faithful, held in the cheapest community centres, often off the beaten track.

Before some of you run him down, he was in England as part of a PAS effort to raise funds for the victims of Kelantan's worst flooding in 2014.

In the past, no one in the opposition had it easy. They scrimped and saved for their own flights, and in most cases, were given the use of spare rooms in houses of the party faithful. They used public transport, or were ferried around by party members, provided they were not working on the day.

Last week, Mohamad was in London to attend the Farnborough Airshow to invite British and other European defence companies to the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (Lima), an event held every two years. This time, the reception, accommodation and transport were overwhelming.

One night, he met the Malaysian diaspora in London. Unlike previous Umno-Baru ministers, who would arrive late, Mohamad and his entourage were early.

The minister joked that he had never been to Malaysia Hall before, as he was not welcome there in the past.

Only a handful of students would dare to attend his talks before, but last week, Malaysians piled in to listen to him. The room filled to capacity, quickly, and many were forced to listen from outside.

Mohamad said Malaysians should be proud that a change of government had happened without bloodshed. He thanked the people for their decision to force change.

Putting Malaysia on the right track

With the potential to make Malaysia an 'Asian tiger' again, and with the help of his peers, Mohamad said that they would work hard to put Malaysia on the right track.

To loud applause, he said that in the 14th general eelction, he had won the most votes by a Malay politician, but he warned Malaysians to work tirelessly to fight racism...

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