Malaysiakini Letter

Zaid Ibrahim, change and democracy

Tan Zhong Yan
Published:  |  Modified:

The minute when Zaid Ibrahim announced his intention to contest in the Kajang by-election as an independent candidate, a lot of Pakatan Rakyat’s leaders, supporters and netizens started to label Zaid with words like “spoiler”, “katak”, “traitor”, “opportunist”, “Umno’s proxy” and etc.

This is the total opposite of when Zaid resigned from his cabinet post in 2008 and subsequently joined PKR, where Pakatan’s leaders and supporters saw Zaid as a hero and man of principle. Of course, labels such as “katak”, “traitor” and etc are not something new to Zaid as he was already labelled so when he decided to quit PKR in 2010.

Ironically, despite being a “katak”, “traitor” and even a “Trojan horse”, Zaid was still invited by Pakatan Rakyat particularly by DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang to be Pakatan’s adviser to help in “the Battle of Gelang Patah, the Battle of Johore and Battle of Malaysia” in the last general election.

I wonder why at that point of time, no Pakatan Rakyat leaders and supporters questioned such a decision to invite a “Trojan horse” to be an adviser in such an important battle? I wonder why all these leaders and supporters had suddenly seemed to forget that Zaid is a “traitor” and “katak”? I wonder why?

Before going on any further, I would like to make it very clear that the purpose of this article is neither to defend Zaid Ibrahim nor to support him. The purpose of this article is mainly to question the mentality of some politicians and their supporters (especially those blind supporters).

The current political phenomenon in Malaysia is this - if you are against me or the political party and leaders that I support, you will be my enemy! So, when a politician decided to quit his/her party, even for good reasons or on matter of principle, he must be a katak or traitor.

When someone questions the act or decision of the political leaders or party that we support, even on good and valid grounds, we will hit back at that person in all ways including smearing his credibility and personal attacks. Is this the political maturity that we want to attain?

While PKR is said to be a ‘reformist’ party and a party which fight for democracy, it is really sad to see some of its senior leaders like Saifuddin Nasution went all out to smear the credibility of Zaid Ibrahim by questioning and suggesting that Umno is behind Zaid and Zaid is just an Umno proxy. Is that what we mean by democracy when we can’t even respect a person’s right to stand for election?

How if today a PKR leader felt that Anwar Ibrahim is no longer fit to lead PKR and decided to challenge Anwar in the upcoming party election for the post of president with the genuine hope for the betterment of the party and people as a whole? Will this leader be seen as a traitor (or whatever names that you can come out with) as well? If the answer is yes, then the cry for “Reformasi” and the cry to fight for democracy are nothing but a mere façade and lies.

What do we want to reform or change?

While we are crying for “Reformasi”, “Change” and “Ubah”, have we ever asked what do we want to reform or change? Do we just want to change the government and retain this dirty politics, low political maturity and mentality? Or do we want to change and move towards new politics?

Again, I would like to state clearly that I am not defending Zaid Ibrahim as I am not sure what was the real cause that made Zaid quit PKR. I am not sure what Zaid’s real motives are in contesting in Kajang. But what I am sure is that it is time for us to change our mentality and be more mature.

It is time for all the political leaders to show to the rakyat how they are better than their opponents and not how their opponents are worse than them. It is time for us to stop supporting any political party or leaders blindly. It is time for us to wake up and realise that the political leaders that we admire are not God and hence will not be right all the time.

And as what Abraham Lincoln once said “Stand with anybody that stands right, stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.” No, I am sure Lincoln is not preaching for ‘katak-ism’ but the right way to move forward.

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