Original Article: FZ.com
If given the chance, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim believes he has the capability to unite the country and bring order to the current ‘madness’ occurring in the state and national politics.
A tall order, a total hogwash? He does not think so.
The former de facto law minister, who spoke to fz.com on Tuesday, said his “moderate voice” will be the tool to persuade the ruling coalition and the Opposition to transcend petty politics towards more mature politics.
“My voice can unify. I can do good for the country.” he was quoted as saying.
Below is the excerpt of his interview with fz.com.
FZ: We all know why you’re contesting in the Kajang by-election. You said before that it was to protect the interests of (Selangor Menteri Besar) Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.
Zaid Ibrahim (ZI): No, not just Tan Sri Khalid but to protect the leadership of Selangor, to protect the legitimacy and the integrity of the last election, the mandate of the last election. We cannot disturb that. The people have elected Khalid and his team. And therefore, they must have a right to govern, undisturbed. It is wrong to remove him (Khalid). The Kajang move is a first step in many steps to remove Khalid. So I don’t agree with that. You cannot see the Kajang by-election in isolation. You have to look at what is their next step. This is where there is a difference between Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and me. I would tell the people the truth. He wouldn’t. He wants to be MB so that he can control the state coffers, so that he can put (PKR deputy president Mohamed) Azmin (Ali) in charge maybe, but he won’t tell the people this.
FZ: But Anwar has denied it.
ZI: Then tell me why we need a by-election? What is it that he cannot do now? Anwar has not said to the people convincingly. He has tried to explain it in his usual way, but he is not explaining anything. Why do we need this by-election? You only need it because you want to be MB, or someone else wants to be MB. Otherwise, we would not have to go through this rigmarole. So I am saying the reasons behind it are not right. It destroys even Pakatan’s own unity. You don’t believe me, you wait and see after the by-election.
FZ: So you support Tan Sri Khalid?
ZI: Yes. And I’m not even his friend.
FZ: But he has distanced himself from your statements. He had also previously said he supports the by-election.
ZI: Yeah, I support the by-election too because I’m a candidate. You see this is all political statements. You see when someone says I support the by-election it is nothing, because the by-election is a fact. So one has to look at why we need one, the reasons for it, and I cannot accept it. I cannot accept why we need one. So when someone says ‘I support the by-election’, they are just talking politics, you know, just like, ‘Yeah I support the sky is blue’. It means nothing. We have to ask why we need one, what is the motive behind it.
FZ: So your reason for being in this by-election, is to foil PKR’s game plan?
ZI: No, no, there is a big difference between PKR and (de-factor leader Datuk Seri) Anwar (Ibrahim). You must understand, Khalid is also PKR. So there is a power struggle going on. Everybody knows that. I’m not foiling Pakatan. Did PAS agree to this by-election? Of course they said they support him (Anwar) because they are afraid of conflict. Both PAS and (DAP secretary general) Lim Guan Eng said they did not know about it. You see it was concocted and set up by PKR. So how can you say this is something everybody wants? Ok they could be polite and say yes, but I know they don’t agree with it.
FZ: So what are your interests in contesting the by-election?
ZI: I am in this to win the election. Because this is a democratic process. If a citizen does not stand up for this sort of abuse, who stands up then? If you condone this abuse of process, you will condone other abuse and then, how can you go and tell the people, Barisan is this, Barisan is that, Barisan doesn’t follow process, Barisan doesn’t respect the mandate of the people. You cannot have the cake and eat it. You want to have a moral government, good governance, good principles, you must stand by that. How can you say that, ‘Oh I have slightly more of the popular vote, so I have the mandate’? You talk about mandate as if it’s important one day, the next day you say, just get him (former Kajang assembly member Lee Chin Cheh) to resign. Where is the credibility? As a citizen who lives in Selangor, I take this very seriously. Don’t play around with politics to the point you mislead the people.
FZ: You were once a member of the Opposition. Would you consider yourself as an ally of the Opposition?
ZI: I sympathise with the Opposition. I want to see an Opposition that is strong because I believe democracy does not function without balance of power, without a proper equilibrium between those that govern the federal, those who are in the Opposition, there must be a check and balance. So I sympathise with them. Although I’m not a member of the Opposition party, my sentiments are with the Opposition.
FZ: Are you standing in this by-election as a way to get back at your detractors?
ZI: No, no, I’m not a vindictive guy. I’m a very nice guy. I never hate people. What do I get by being vindictive? I can be brought into controversies sure. All the controversies I have been brought in was based on principles which I think is important. But I believe that as citizens, we must stand up for something.
FZ: Anwar has said that your run is not a serious threat to Pakatan.
ZI: What is he going to say? He can’t say I’m a real threat. So he does the opposite. And he is kind of praising Barisan, Barisan will provide a strong challenge. The truth is the opposite. He is praying that Barisan joins the fray because if Barisan joins the fray, votes will be split, we will have sufficient votes to win. If it is one-to-one with me, he wouldn’t know (the outcome). He thinks a lot of people support him but we will never know.
FZ: So you are confident of winning?
ZI: Yes. You don’t know how people are going to vote.
FZ: Are you confident you can gain a significant portion of the votes?
ZI: Yes. I think people are tired of this by-election.
FZ: How would you structure your campaign differently than your competitors?
ZI: I don’t have the resources of the big organisations but I have a very good team of people using Youtube, digital, people like yourself who are interested in hearing my views. I will also do the walkabout because that is cheap. I will hand out flyers because that is cheap. I will do the cheap stuff but I won’t do the normal big dinners, big ceramahs, big makans, etc.
FZ: Speaking on resources, have you been paid to stand?
ZI: Paid by who?
FZ: That is the question, because there are rumours that (former Finance Minister) Tun Daim (Zainuddin) is behind your candidacy.
ZI: Now it’s Tun Daim (laughs). You know yesterday, I was told that Khalid paid me. Then there is a tweet that I got RM500 million from Umno. So, no, no, no. I told my guys we will spend whatever we have be it RM20,000, RM50,000, we spend it. But in an election there will be friends who will buy me dinners, so certain functions will be paid my friends, yes.
FZ: So why spend so much money…
ZI: It’s not so much money.
FZ: Not so much to you, Datuk, but to the layman, it is a lot.
ZI: No, no. We all spend what we can afford. I can spend some money. In life you have to spend for what you like, for what you believe in. Some people spend a lot of money on girlfriends. They spend a lot of money on hobbies. They buy yachts, some people go Antartica. They spend RM200,000. I spend less than that in Kajang because I like it. I don’t have to go to Antartica.
FZ: Do you think you will lose your deposit?
ZI: No (laughs). That is what Anwar and his friends hope la.
FZ: You have had a series of resignations…
ZI: No no. This is all exaggerations. The Anwar’s spinners will make it look like I’ve been flip flopping, changing places. I have changed places yes, but I never changed my beliefs and principles. I didn’t leave Umno. They sacked me. What can I do? Because of my fighting against the ISA (Internal Security Act), my beliefs on what reforms that should be implemented, they (Umno) thought Zaid is a problem. I only left one party which is PKR. That’s only one, not because of Azmin, because the elections were rigged. And during the campaigning, Anwar had called me a Trojan horse. So how can you stay in a party when my boss, supremo, calls me that? So I started my own party. It was not well-organised, I didn’t know that it will require so much money to get it going. And I said no. And there was a lot of internal bickering. So I said no. I said enough of parties and coalitions, I am not going to join parties. But that doesn’t mean I have to stop speaking out, so I continued writing.
FZ: But the perception of you not being able to be in something for the long haul…
ZI: No that is also a spin by Anwar’s camp. I was in Umno for 28 years, isn’t that not long? I was criticised, suspended, dropped from the elections even though I was winning seats, I suffered a lof of things for my beliefs. I gave up my law firm for my beliefs, isn’t that a sacrifice? I couldn’t last with Anwar because everybody knows about him. So I said ok I made a mistake. (Former Prime Minister Tun) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) made a mistake by appointing him. Everybody makes a mistake with Anwar. I joined and I made a mistake. That is not a character flaw. But the spin doctors and go around and around, you know, Zaid cannot stand the heat la. It is easy to humiliate people but I am not like that.
FZ: But do you think the perception will hurt your campaign?
ZI: No. The perception is organised by people but I will explain the way I have explained to you. The facts are there. The issues are very clear to me. I have always struggled to have some reforms in the country. I always want a good political system and I will fight for it and if I have to change places once or twice then…I am very credible.
FZ: Based on your track record, why do you think the people should trust you?
ZI: No, no, no, they should ask do they trust Anwar.
FZ: No, why should they trust you? Why should they give their votes to you instead of Anwar?
ZI: Because I am more honest than him. I speak my mind trustfully, I explain, my struggles are consistent, I fight for the same principles, I never change. Anwar only changed when he left Umno. You should see his speeches when he was in Umno. You should look at his decision-making when he was a minister. People should trust Khalid.
FZ: Do you think you can effectively champion the issues faced by the Kajang people?
ZI: No, no, I will give the issues that will save Selangor. I will explain to them issues. You see, I have this attitude that a leader must not promise too much and that’s why I don’t like to promise in terms of…but you have to be responsible. You’ve got to take your job seriously. I think if you’re a wakil rakyat, there are things you can do and things you can’t and I will do my best.