Going Astray

By Tay Tian Yan, MySinChew

I could see the shadow of Chandra Muzaffar in Zaid Ibrahim.

As a matter of fact, what I have seen are two little white rabbits!

Chandra, that Indian Muslim scholar on wheelchair, used to be a widely respected intellectual and social reformist some two decades ago.

He founded the Aliran movement, and championed religious and ethnic integration, democracy, human rights and rule of law.

During Mahathir’s time, he lashed out boldly on many unjust and unrighteous policies. He did not simply hurl scornful remarks, but spoke in a rational and civilised way to embarrass the administration.

In the 1987 Operasi Lalang, the wheelchair-bound activist was sent to Kamunting by the Mahathir regime.

He later joined the Reformasi movement, and assisted Wan Azizah to set up the PKR, of which he became the deputy president.

He opted out of PKR two years later.

I have the feeling that he could have left PKR out of tremendous grudge, as in much of the subsequent years he has been doing nothing but hitting out at PKR and Anwar Ibrahim, especially on the eve of crucial elections.

To top it off, many of his criticisms have been reduced to scornful abuses, something not quite his style in the past.

To those in authority, he has opted to seal his lips.

He is no longer the Chandra Muzaffar we used to know.

Sure enough PKR and Anwar need to come under watchful eyes, but as an intellectual, he ought to adhere to the same principle, overseeing and criticising the government as well.

He might have vented his anger, but has also lost the respect of many along the way.

The same thing now happens to Zaid Ibrahim.

Many people held Zaid in very high respect when he was still a Cabinet minister in the BN government, and they respected him even more after he quit his ministerial post for his principles.

But after he joined PKR, all that we have heard from him are endless grumbles, withdrawal from party elections, and resignation. No one has the slightest idea what else he has been doing.

People have very high expectations from him, hoping that he would push ahead political reforms and social progress, not someone who grumbles and flares his temper all the time.

Sure enough there are problems with PKR, but which political party can stay immune of problems and irregularities?