Is Zaid Ibrahim in effect playing Trojan horse in PKR?

By Guan Sin

I love Zaid Ibrahim when he was in UMNO. Back then he showed us a man of integrity and principle, upholding good governance and rule of law. He was doing all the good things, without thinking much on position and power. (At least that’s the perception we all got.) He was a Cabinet minister after all, probably the last remaining good minister in UMNO-BN block.

He earned the admiration and respect of many Malaysians, myself included. I even have a book autographed by him. When he left UMNO and eventually joined PKR, we started to build our dream, that one fine man in Zaid Ibrahim will rise through the rank and eventually become a minister in a Pakatan government. And he would help to steer Malaysia back to the right path and rebuild the nation that never existed. How wrong was I.

I am not a PKR member. But through my involvement with The Movement for the last 3 years, I have probably done fair amount of work for it that I feel something for the party. Many people have similar emotion like mine, feeling strongly of what PKR stands for and fight for. But some of us start to forget the PKR we knew from the beginning: A PKR of Anwar Ibrahim leading the Reformasi momentum, a PKR of Tian Chua fighting tyranny on the street fearlessly, a PKR of Irene Fernandez defending the voiceless in Malaysia, a PKR of Sivarasa pursuing human right cases in court, and so on and so forth. Not that I am arguing for the party to return to the days of being a tiny opposition party. But those pre-2008 leaders did not focus their energy and time on power and positions. Surely they had differences in opinion, but they addressed them through the proper channels internally.

Then came the Tsunami in 2008. We had a bunch of ‘accidental MPs’. Some of them are genuine to serve and probably bright enough too, but the rest we know what we have. Overall, they did behave, all within the tolerable and acceptable range of manner.

Then came Zaid joining the party. A memorable milestone that was, with the party leader Anwar welcoming him in a press conference. No sooner he played his role as what Zaid Ibrahim was – a maverick that does not mince his words but just speaks the truth, so-called. Through various public statements, he certainly stepped on various party leaders’ toes, most probably unintentionally. Still, all well and good as what he said was mostly sound policies and genuine suggestions to strengthen the party and Pakatan. In a way, he added dynamism and diversity to the leadership of PKR. Using my good friend Nat Tan’s iPhone/Android analogy, Zaid added to the openness of PKR, like what Android has over iPhone.

Then came the Pemilihan 2010. “All hell breaks loose” is unfortunately the accurate description. Various opportunists became restless and noisy. What they see is not an opportunity to offer their ideas and service to strengthen the party further, but an opportunity for power in Putrajaya post-GE13. Noisy indeed that outsiders of Malaysian politics may mistake PKR to be the ruling party, that its outcome would affect the direction of the country.

All was still fine and good. Zaid put himself up for contest of the deputy presidency early enough. And some of those ‘accidental MPs’ as well as some ‘accidental leaders’ (meaning those who have yet proven themselves in leadership but in leadership positions) started to make noises, ranging from engaging in shouting matches in public, to making allegations of invisible force wanting to shut them out of the contest. In summary, they wanted us to believe them as victims and outsiders of the party. Sympathy seems to be their only weapon in the absence of any tangible leadership offerings they have. Sigh.

Zaid was no exception. He went even further, letting his name appearing in various slandering articles against the party and its current leadership (isn’t he part of it?), all conspicuously published through a single media outlet called Free Malaysia Today. His posturing started to look clumsy and weird. And he even broke the conventional wisdom by using UMNO-controlled media for his campaign. That’s fatal and bad judgment indeed.

My ‘enough is enough’ moment came when he made his ‘seven requests‘ publicly. Those ‘requests’ are plainly sensible and reasonable. The problem is, he should not make them through the media. I call that a childish act. It’s almost like shouting across the street to complain against your neighbourhood grocery store. Just walk over and talk to the store owner nicely. The truth is, Zaid is part of the party leadership. He is an insider. He is a member of the powerful politburo of the party, for goodness’ sake! Again, not using the right channel has lost him all credibility in this case.

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