Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Break the sacred code of silence

PAS MP Khalid Samad believes that his suspension is a small price to pay to teach his compatriots in PAS and Pakatan Rakyat a big lesson.

The outspoken Shah Alam parliamentarian hopes that his peers will follow in his footsteps and air their thoughts even if it means stepping on some powerful toes.

“We have unfortunately cultivated the culture of silence among our members and that is not good. It is contrary to what has been taught to us.

“But for some reason this culture has developed and I think we need people who are able to break it,” he told FMT during a recent exclusive interview.

Khalid, who was slapped with a six-month suspension from all party posts for his open criticism and for disclosing classified information on his blog, also refuses to compromise on his belief that unity is an essential factor for Pakatan Rakyat in its journey along the road to Putrajaya.

Instead of appealing against the PAS disciplinary board's decision, the MP published an article on his blog titled "My Appeal" where he posed a two-fold challenge to the party: firstly, to prove its commitment to coalition unity and secondly, to prove its stand to uphold justice.

“You don't have to wait for somebody to appeal against injustice or wrongdoings before you do something about it, especially when it has a direct impact on the image of the party,” he said.

PAS' resolve to stamp out errancy within the party was the result of its spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat's charge to get rid of people who were anti-Pakatan.

This call underpinned the disciplinary board's fervour in taking politicians to task when they were seen to be crossing the line.

'Have both feet in the same boat'

However, Khalid said the board's decision to penalise him was taken as an act of friendly fire within some circles, leaving them wondering what was really happening.

“In 'My Appeal', I emphasised on the kind of changes that I wanted to see -- not in personalities, but in terms of giving a clear message referring back to what Nik Aziz said in Ipoh, which is to have both feet in the same boat (firmly in the party and opposition coalition).

“I think it needs to be reiterated and emphasised all the time because whether we like it or not, we are in the same boat. If Pakatan fails in Selangor, we will also fail. We can't win without PKR and DAP and if we are working against one another, we are actually shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said.

“Problems happen when people say 'strengthen Pakatan', but at the same time there are various other activities which are aimed at strengthening PAS at the price of Pakatan.

“So I don't think we should look at it as being mutually exclusive... as if PAS can only become stronger if Pakatan is weaker. It should be looked upon from a complementary perspective,” he added.

PAS' position within the coalition was put under the spotlight last year when it was revealed that the party was being courted by Umno to leave the opposition coalition and join the Barisan Nasional- something Khalid is sure will not happen, but admits that the commonalities between the parties means that they will never truly be diametrically opposites.

“I think the issue of Umno talks is almost resolved. The president (Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang) himself has made a strong statement about cooperation with Umno and BN, saying that what happened in 1974 will not happen again.

“Hopefully that is good enough... (and with) 'My Appeal' being made, asking PAS to be sincere in its cooperation with the coalition, hopefully this will have a positive impact on Pakatan,” he said.

“I think the issue that differentiates PAS and Umno is how we understand religion and the idea of talking to Umno about matters pertaining to religion has been an ongoing issue.

“I think that we will always have such talks because we share the same religion whether we like it or not - Umno is a Malay-majority party and they are Muslims. So we will want to engage them on issues that we differ on in terms of understanding,” he added.

Selangor's economic plan 'settled and clear'

Describing Selangor's economic plan and vision “settled and clear”, the Shah Alam MP was quick to reaffirm former Finance Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's ability to carry out his duty as the state's economic adviser in the midst of his second sodomy trial.

“Because of Anwar's previous experience and political exposure, he may see things from a different perspective... by putting Anwar there, Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim will make sure the decisions are better thought-out and more wholesome. I don't think the court case will distract Anwar,” he said.

The state government has also been busy winning the hearts and minds of the people in its bid to oppose the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by the federal government.

The state government's strategy, according to Khalid, is to clarify to the public how the GST is going to affect the economy and ultimately, them.

“It will be good to see the situation where the federal government allows for an open debate pertaining to this issue and calls a forum made up of people who agree and disagree.

“This will fulfil their responsibility to listen to the rakyat so they can listen to both sides before they decide. For me, it is quite a major policy to be implemented and it can have very far-reaching consequences if it is not done correctly and at the right time,” he said.

Mission – Bash Umno, strengthen Pakatan

Despite being suspended, Khalid has not stopped championing the interests of the party and Pakatan.

“My next course of action will still be Umno-bashing lah, what else? (Laughs) My effort is strengthening Pakatan and the position of PAS in Pakatan and undermining Umno and BN.

“But I think we are approaching the timeline of the next general election and we need a more concerted effort and better focus for us to win,” he said.

“The disadvantage of being in power is that you can't harp on abuses and corruption of the previous Selangor government because, like when we had (Datuk Seri Dr Mohd) Khir Toyo as MB, we talked about how he misused funds.

“But now he is no longer in power, we can't talk about how he misuses it because he can't misuse funds! (Laughs). So when we want to talk about corruption or abuse of power, it needs to be looked at the federal level because there is nothing much at the state level,” he added.

Khalid has also not abdicated his responsibilities towards his constituents.

“I am still a MP and I still go to PAS party functions as the MP of Shah Alam. On top of that, my second man can attend these functions and in that way, I can get better representation in the functions.

“There are no real practical implications of this (suspension) so far... (the disciplinary committee) said I can proceed with my programmes as the MP of Shah Alam, and the newspapers and media still come and interview me,” he said.

courtesy of FreeMalaysiaToday

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