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The MSLS Forum @ Nikko: Will Politics of Ideology Trump Politics Race?

On last Sunday, 1st of August, a forum was held on the topic of ‘The Malaysian Political Mind set: Will politics of Ideology trump politics race’. I was a panelist as was YB Ibrahim Ali and YB Khairy Jamaluddin. Many expected a fiery debate, but as was reported by the Star, it was a ‘civil affair’. Given the circumstances, the time and the atmosphere, that was the only way it could be.

I felt a bit out of place to be frank. From the word go, it became clear that the ‘lover’s quarrel’ between UMNO Youth and PERKASA would take centre stage. KJ was keen to dissociate UMNO from PERKASA while PERKASA on the other hand wanted to emphasise the need for its existence given the weak leadership of UMNO Youth. Nonetheless, we all knew that they needed one another for the pursuit of their political agenda, which, although lamely denied by KJ, was race based politics. “Can’t live with you but can’t live without you either”, was the message from the two parties.

KJ did try to portray a liberal attitude in terms of his aspirations but then justified the race politics of today based on “what is the reality out there”. Justifying the need for race based politics on the basis of what ‘the people want’ or what ‘the people are faced with’ seemed pretty pathetic to me. After all, race based politics is kept alive by UMNO and no one else. And he dare called me a wishy-washy liberal!?

Well, I am no liberal; I am an Islamist who understands Islam as an inclusive religion, defending the rights of all. As I stated, he started off well, but ended up in the same old paradigm in the end. What can he do, after all, he is in UMNO; a race based political party!

The way the forum was held, as is the case with all forums, there was not enough time for a thorough debate. Being the second speaker with KJ as the third made it worse for me as it allowed him to rebut my arguments with little opportunity for me to respond. The session started with a 5 minute speech from each speaker followed by a question and answer session. The floor had more issues with PERKASA and as such all questions were directed to Ibrahim Ali except one which was directed to KJ as the representative of the government. Fortunately I was allowed to ‘respond’ although no questions were directed to me. But then again some of my responses were rebutted by KJ.

On rounding up, the issue of ‘Khalid Samad not being representative of PAS’ was brought up by KJ. This was to me a good sign as it shows that what I said was sufficiently impressive for KJ had to have to use this line of argument. In other words, what I was saying was well received and KJ could only respond by dissociating me from PAS. I rebutted by asking how would KJ know what was or was not representative of PAS? His image of PAS would be drawn from his own limited interaction with some PAS members at the ‘grass-roots’ level and surely I am more aware of what is PAS than he.

To this his response was, I did not win the party elections. So what if I did not win, many others of similar thinking did, including DS Nizar. I did not win the party elections due to the fact that many think I am too forth-right, I speak my mind, I do not mince my words and rub too many people the wrong way. And that’s only in PAS! Imagine what they think of me in UMNO!

I lost the elections due to my personality, or lack of it to some and not due to my way of thinking. In PAS, it is simple. The members will accept anything Islamic and reject anything un-Islamic. Politics of ideology, or more correctly of ideals, beliefs and principles is acceptable. Politics of race is out. Most if not all of what I said was based on Islamic principles and as such most if not all would be representative of PAS.

Based on the concept of ‘Siyaasah Syariyyah’ or Islamic politics, which the membership is being increasingly exposed to, PAS has a clearer path to governance based on the politics of ideals and principles. How can UMNO, whose reason for existence is race politics, remove itself from politics of race?

I of course took the opportunity to remind KJ of his own predicament. He won the party youth leadership but was side-lined by his party! His case is clearly worse than mine as even though I was not one of the top 18 elected by the Muktamar to the Central Committee (I was at no 23). Nevertheless, the party leadership still appointed me as a member of the Central political Bureau. This is proof that my line of thinking was not contrary to the Party’s direction and views as, the leadership, i.e. those elected by the members, brought me in at this level.

However, KJs case is the exact opposite. He won the Youth leadership race but is side lined as he has no place and no role in the development of UMNO, material or otherwise. Clearly it is he who is not representative of his party. Ibrahim Ali is playing the role which UMNO wants played.

KJ of course went on about how being elected he had grass root support and how this was more important than being appointed by the leadership as in my case. I didn’t have the heart to tell him, more so as I had interjected too often already, although it was the last round and he was having the last say, that his ‘grass root support’ disappeared when Pak Lah resigned as President! Grass root support indeed.

Now Mukriz and Zali are busy sharpening their knives for the next UMNO Youth election! “Et tu Brute” or you too Brutus, says KJ to Zali as he falls to his political death…

Well maybe the next debate should be between me and KJ on the topic of “Is Khalid Samad representative of PAS and is KJ representative of UMNO”. If anyone is interested, please act fast because as suddenly as he appeared, as suddenly too will he disappear…

WaLlahu 'Alam


Anonymous said…
YB,as much as we dont really want to bear hug KJ due to his association with a gangster party, but we still hope he will wake up one day to serve the nation inclusively bcos so far he is the smartest dude there compared to all those old rowdy useless playboys. I hope this young man will come over from the dark side and not get confused,manipulated by those experienced old cowboys who are driving the nation down.
Anonymous said…
Dear YB Khalid Samad

As one of your non-Muslim constituents (I live in Shah Alam),
I would like to say to you

"Keep up the good work, you have my total support!"

and "Change is coming to Malaysia,
together we can do it!"

Phua Kai Lit
Anonymous said…
Yes, in the end you stand on sounded ground intellectually but there were occasions I thought you could have hit the issue out of the ballpark that you did not.

When KJ said that you did not represent majority of PAS views, you could have retorted that its because that is what leadership must entail - to lead the view not pander to it or just exploit it the way KJ does.

When KJ said that the Malays still want NEP, you could have retorted that who would not want privilleges if they can get it? But to say the Malay won't accept getting rid of NEP if they get real improvements and independence in their lives vs imagined ones under NEP is to insult the Malays and Malaysian in general. Giving up and being cynical is easy, discipline, planning and delivering well should NOT and IS NOT unrealistic i.e., Malays and Malaysian leaders should be more than capable of it given our advantages and resources. Just look at what has been done in Selangor and Penang with what little they have.

I think you know you lost as far as style is concern. Unfortunately its part of politics. If you really want to stick to your substance approach in this kind of arena and it really is the heartland arena, you really know you got to keep raising your own standards. It seems unfair but that is the reality.

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WaLlahu 'Alam   KHALID SAMAD