By Stephanie Sta Maria and G Vinod
FMT EXCLUSIVE / VIDEO INSIDE PETALING JAYA: The cool breeze from an earlier downpour seemed to have failed to soothe former PKR supreme council member Zaid Ibrahim: he is still full of resentment over his former party which he left on Nov 16.
Speaking from his luxury home in Tropicana here, he accused the party of being a “cult organisation” as it was fixated on “certain individuals”.
“Their (PKR) problem is that they do not want other people to come up unless they belong to the clique. It is like a cult organisation. Only certain people can rise in PKR,” said Zaid, who was seated at his patio.
He cited an example where the party's de facto leader, Anwar Ibrahim, had made many empty promises to the people in the previous general election, but nobody questioned him as they were too engrossed in him.
“Anwar had promised a lot of things in this country... But no one asked him why he never delivered any of those things. This is because they are fixated on him,” he said, adding that this worrying trend would last forever.
Fending off attacks levelled against him by his former party comrades, Zaid claimed that no one had been able to provide evidence to substantiate allegations that he was a traitor to their cause.
“No one asked him (Anwar) to show proof that I am a traitor. Did anyone ask him, as a responsible leader, how could he allow so many traitors into his party? Is there no vetting procedure? What did they do? How much did Umno pay me?
“When leaders make certain accusations, they have to be substantiated. But in this country some people are exempted from this rule. He (Anwar) is a charmer... he can charm you. Because I am disturbing their dreams, they are taking it out on me. But when the dust settles, I am sure that I will be all right,” he said.
'PKR's days numbered'
Zaid gave PKR a warning: its days are numbered... the Pakatan Rakyat coalition will never step foot in Putrajaya as long as Anwar is helming the pact.
“People are so obsessed about changing the government that they will just support any leader for that (purpose). But I do not buy or believe it. I think that is stupid and emotional.
“You have to replace the existing leader with someone who is better. I do not see that happening today. On the menu, you have (Prime Minister) Najib Tun Razak and Anwar. Although I am in the opposition, I think that Najib is way ahead in terms of ability and integrity.
“So to replace one with the another... you need to have a good reason. I am not obsessed about changing anyone. It is the policies that I am concerned about. As long as Anwar leads Pakatan, the opposition pact will not be able to take over the government,” said Zaid.
Former deputy president, Syed Husin Ali, was also not spared from his venom. Zaid called the former leader an “arrogant” man for blindly dismissing those who wished to leave the party.
“Syed Husin, for example, was very arrogant when he said those who want to leave can leave; if you want to hang yourself, please do so.
“He himself was a leader who has not achieved much for himself,” said Zaid, the former law minister.
He added that when he (Syed Husin) merged his then-party Parti Rakyat Malaysia with then Parti Keadilan Nasional to form PKR, not many of his own followers joined the new entity.
'I don't endorse phony politics
When asked about party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail's allegation that he was an “impatient person”, Zaid claimed that party members just threw those accusation at him for the sake of berating him.
“Some people say I am power-crazy. These people do not understand. What am I chasing? I joined PKR because I thought through the party, I could help transform the country in the way that I think political parties should do.
“I am not here to support or endorse phony politics... politics that are against the grain of good behaviour. Why should I do that? Why would anyone do that? Unless of course they are the ones who are power-crazy... to them as long as they get to Putrajaya, it does not really matter.”
He added that his detractors can continue slandering him but expressed confidence that people will understand his convictions soon enough.
“It is just that a lot of people are angry with me because I have disturbed their dream. They have this idea that the opposition is getting stronger, but I am giving them a wake-up call and no one likes to be woken up, especially if they are having a good dream,” he said.
However, Zaid expressed confidence that the Malaysian public will judge him on a more positive note in due time.
“I have been saying that there are a lot of flaws in this opposition system, in PKR especially; the leaders whom you think you know, you do not really know. They do not like hearing this. But over time I think they will understand and they will like me again... hopefully,” he smiled.
When asked about his relationship with other partners in the opposition coalition, PAS and DAP, Zaid said that it depended on how both parties viewed Anwar's role in the opposition.
“If Pakatan and my party find that we have common views, it will be up to them to decide whether they want to work with me. If PAS and DAP think that Anwar is indispensable and he is God's gift to Malaysia, then they cannot work with me.
“That is because I am not God's gift to anyone. I am just an ordinary Malaysian who wants to see a better set of policies and laws for this country,” said Zaid.
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He said that he was not concerned over relationships with any party, as he believed that politicians should share common ideals with his or her partners before working together.
“I do not worry about relationships. I think that you should not get into a relationship unless you know why you are getting into it. If you share common ideas and political views, then you collaborate.
“Some people collaborate to gain power. Some people want to get more seats and win elections. I come from a slightly different angle. I would like to gain power of course, I mean, no politician would want to dismiss power, but I would rather give priority to sharing an alliance of ideas and policies.
“If I have the support of some groups, I will welcome them but I am not about to say, 'Excuse me, can we 'pakat' (collaborate) so that I can win my seat?' To me electoral success is secondary. I will be friendly to everyone because Barisan Nasional too must have some policies that are good,”said the maverick politician.
'Media painted wrong picture'
The media too came in for some criticism. Zaid expressed his disappointment that the media had painted a wrong picture of him by calling him a traitor and a quitter as well.
“I have read a lot of lies written about me by so-called political writers. If you read The Unmaking of Zaid Ibrahim (by Terence Netto), there was a lot of rubbish written in there. And he cannot write with objectivity because a guy like that would go to Johor and campaign for Anwar... he would tell people the worst about me and then he pretends to write an objective analysis,” claims an upset Zaid.
When asked what lessons he had learnt from his nearly one-year tenure in PKR, Zaid said one lesson was that anyone wishing to join any political organisation should do proper a check on the party before taking the plunge.
“You should probably do a lot more due diligence before doing something. As a lawyer I should know that. You should do more background checks on the place you want to move to.
“I suppose I did not do that much due diligence. Perhaps I was not very careful about my choice of political party. But having said that, I am also happy that I have joined because if you do not go into it, you would not know. So it was a plus (point) to having joined PKR,” said Zaid.
On his upcoming political party, he boldly proclaimed that he was not afraid of any traitors entering his new party, saying that he is more confident of himself than Anwar is to himself.
“My party would not need this sort of due diligence because it will be a new party and there are no skeletons. We will do normal checks. We are more concerned about why the people want to join the party.
“I have a lot more self-confidence than Anwar. He is afraid of a lot of things but that is him. I have no such problem. Only a person who is afraid would label me a traitor,” he said.