Friday, April 16, 2010

Zaid Ibrahim will win but by how much?

Did it matter to the Malays in Kampong Raja Uda that Charles Santiago is Indian? Should it matter to the Indians of Hulu Selangor that Zaid is Malay? Or are the Malays more matured than the Indians?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

My comrade-in-exile, private investigator P. Balasubramaniam, has bet that Datuk Zaid Ibrahim will win the Hulu Selangor by-election with a majority of 5,000 to 6,000 votes. I, in turn, have bet that Zaid’s majority will be between 3,000 to 5,000 votes. I will not reveal what the bet is but it looks like we both agree that Zaid’s majority will be around 5,000 votes, plus-minus.

Looking at the smear campaign that Barisan Nasional is embarking upon it appears that they have really nothing much to throw at Zaid. He has deep pockets. He has baggage. He is an outsider and a ‘parachute’ candidate. Why a Malay and not an Indian candidate? And all such trivia and petty issues.

So what if Zaid has deep pockets? Does this not prove that he is a self-made man? How many road or construction projects did the government give him? How many APs or permits did he get? How much sand or timber concessions was Zaid awarded?

Zaid used to head the largest law firm in Malaysia. So that made him rich. Is that not good? Should Perkasa and Umno not sing his praises and stand tall and be proud that there are at least some Malays who can make it on the ‘open market’?

So it looks like not all Malays need crutches if you go by Zaid’s success and track record. Does not Umno want more Malays like these, Malays who can succeed even when faced with stiff competition?

Earlier today, in a keynote speech to commemorate the 44th anniversary of Mara, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Malays must not be proud of always getting aid from the government. “Aid is like a crutch... to be given when we are weak. It is better if we can stand firmly on our own feet. Do not be proud with such aid. In truth, we are not masters because of aid,” said Dr Mahathir as he lamented the attitude of the Malay community who always looked for the easiest way of getting rich.

Even Dr Mahathir, the man who supports Perkasa, said that the Malays should not be proud of their crutches. This can be rephrased to mean we should be ashamed. Should this not also mean we should be proud of Malays who can make it without crutches? And in that case, going by this argument, should we not be proud of Zaid who made it without crutches?

So why are they whacking Zaid for having deep pockets? Why are they not singing his praises instead? Zaid did not rob the rakyat? Zaid did not pilfer the government’s coffers. Zaid did not steal the taxpayers’ money. Zaid worked hard to put bread on the table. And that is a crime?

Hundreds of other Malays have also become successful lawyers. I can name dozens whom I personally know and who are now very rich. I know many more Chinese and Indians who are now rich because of their successful law practice. And this is supposed to be a bad thing?

When Malays get rich the wrong way we lament and sigh. But when they get rich the right way we whack them. So what is it that we want? Ini pun salah. Itu pun salah. Tak pahamlah minda Melayu.

Actually, Malays are like crabs. They can’t walk straight and they are trying to teach others how to walk straight. Then, when you place crabs in a basket, they will bring down those who try to climb out. So, in the end, not one crab gets to climb out of the basket because they would pull each other down every time someone tries to climb out. I suppose this is why most Malays are basket cases.

And this is the real issue here. Malays just can't bear to see other Malays become successful. PHD: perangai hasat dengki.

So Zaid is Kelantanese. So what? Why can’t a Kelantanese stand for elections in Selangor? Terengganu once had a Kelantanese as the Menteri Besar. When it comes to Malays we worry about which state or which town they come from. Were Lim Guan Eng, Lim Kit Siang, Karpal Singh, Gobind Singh, and whatnot all born in the town they contested in?

Mat Sabu of PAS has contested in Kedah, Penang, Kelantan, Terengganu and all over the place and won most times. No one asked him where he was born or accused him of being a parachute candidate. If I wanted to contest the general election then where would I contest? I was born in Surrey, England. Does this mean there is no seat for me anywhere in Malaysia?

Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was not born in Permatang Pauh. Yet she not only won that seat but became the Opposition Leader in Parliament as well.

We need to break away from this old pre-Merdeka culture where you must be born in that town to be able to contest a seat in that town.

In the old days it took five days and four nights to travel from the tip of the East Coast to Kuala Lumpur.
Today, it takes only an hour. In the old days it look a week for a letter to arrive. Today, we can communicate in real time.

Times have changed. We now live in a global village and a borderless world. You can be born in the UK, like me, and still contest in Hulu Selangor, Ulu Kelantan, Ulu Terengganu, Kuala Kedah, or wherever. It does not matter. What matters is that you can serve your constituents.

And I believe Zaid Ibrahim can.

Zaid is not concerned about race. He is concerned about human rights and justice. He worries about the underdog.

In short, Zaid is colour-blind. And that is what matters. That is what we want the New Malaysia to be about.

For more than half a century since Merdeka the Malays in Kampong Raja Uda in Kelang, Selangor, voted ruling party. They never once voted opposition. For the first time in history, on 8 March 2008, the Malays of Kampong Raja Uda voted for Charles Santiago as their Member of Parliament.

Today, Charles Santiago is a Member of Parliament.

Did it matter to the Malays in Kampong Raja Uda that Charles Santiago is Indian? Should it matter to the Indians of Hulu Selangor that Zaid is Malay? Or are the Malays more matured than the Indians?

Yes, Zaid will help the Indians. But he will help deserving Indians and not Ananda Krishnan. Yes, Zaid will help the Chinese. But he will help deserving Chinese and not Francis Yeoh. And Zaid will also help the Malays in the Felda settlements and the Orang Asli in their reservations.

Maybe it is good that PKR finally fields a candidate with deep pockets. Then Umno can’t pay him RM2 million to cross over. Maybe that should be the criteria in future. Make sure that the candidate is not bangsat and therefore can be easily bought.

Zaid should be the new benchmark that the opposition uses in what the candidates should look like. That would ensure we will not see ‘cheap sales’ every month of the year.

courtesy of


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