(The Malaysian Insider) - The politics is messier. Race relations are slumping. Religious conflicts are being played out publicly. Still, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim believes that Malaysia has a good future. The reason: the majority of Malaysians are sensible people and the results of Election 2008 show that the rakyat wants democracy. The former de facto Law Minister said: "Ordinary people have more sense than their leaders sometimes. They know the value of co-operation, mutual respect and harmony. I believe the people have spoken out loudly and clearly. "The future direction of the country is no longer going to be solely in the hands of the political masters. They have had enough of scandals, abuse of power, and poor administration.''Speaking at a talk organised by the Insititute of South East Asian Studies in Singapore today, he disagreed with the school of thought led by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who argued that many Malaysians voted for the Opposition on March 8 as a protest against the Barisan Nasional. "The people voted for the Opposition as a manifestation of their desire for a better country; for themselves, their families, their children, '' he said, adding that he was cheered by the results of the general elections. Given what happened on March 8, he believed that Malaysia will prosper in a way that will benefit all including the Bumiputras; will see the rights and the dignity of all respected and protected; will witness compassion becoming the central consideration in the formulating of public policies. "Finally, as a lawyer, I want to see justice and the rule of law re-established and flourishing. These are simple ambitions, I think. Given the results of the 8 March 2008 election, there is some hope that they will be fulfilled in my lifetime. The rakyat has shown that it wants democracy and all that it portends, '' said Zaid, who resigned from the government because he did not agree with the use of the Internal Security Act and could not accept the policies and resistance to change in Umno.
The Malaysian Insider) - Half the present members of Cabinet have passed their shelf life, their former colleague said today. Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said that when Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak becomes the prime minister in March, he will have the option of assembling a younger and stronger Cabinet. "To do so, he will have to disband half of the present crop of Ministers, who have in any event certainly passed their shelf life. There are many young leaders in Umno and the BN who are capable technocrats but, more importantly, they are not the typical Umno idealogues and are more moderate in their positions." "Khairy Jamaluddin is capable and has enough gumption to effect changes the new Government may need to effect. He could be a star in the future, if he is not buried or sidelined in March. "And another young Umno leader is Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah - the present Deputy Minister of Entrepreneur Development. "These are bright BN second liners and will make good Ministers, '' said the lawyer who was appointed a senator and made a minister by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after Barisan Nasional's poor performance on March 8. Zaid had a tough time in Cabinet and his desire to push through judicial reforms quickly was resisted by several Umno ministers. He resigned from government after the Internal Security Act was used on a journalist and an opposition politician. Speaking at a luncheon talk in Singapore, he said that in all probability, Najib will persist with the so-called "Umno tradition" of giving Cabinet posts to those who hold senior party positions. He cautioned that it will be a fatal mistake for Umno and Barisan Nasional if Najib reversed some of the reforms started by Abdullah. He noted that it was Abdullah who reintroduced integrity, good governance and judicial reform into Malaysia's political lexicon. "It took courage for Pak Lah to not only reintroduce them but to take steps towards giving them substance. "The establishing of the Institute of Integrity, the Judicial Appointments Commission and the Anti Corruption Commission, all of which could have been better tailored to their purpose and declared aims, signalled the need for a massive change of direction - a paradigm shift, if you will- in political governance. "Will these efforts herald a new era in anti-corruption efforts as well as allow for more meaningful efforts to restore judicial independence and competence? Only Datuk Seri Najib can answer this, '' he said. He noted that though Abdullah will be leaving the scene soon, he will leave behind an important legacy: a more open and critical society. Sadly Islam Hadhari was sorely misunderstood, said Zaid. "A good idea, aimed at promoting moderation and progressiveness in Islamic discourse, it did not take off principally for the effort having been handicapped by its promotion having been undertaken by traditional stakeholders like Jakim and other Umno leaders. "They were sadly more interested in pursuing political ambitions and aims than realising the noble aspirations underlying the campaign. "The League of Nations conceived by Harry Truman failed as an organisation, but the idea was too good to die with the organisation and today we have the United Nations. "I hope the reforms Pak Lah gave life to will survive him, '' he added.
"Anwar is someone I admire immensely for his courage and tenacity. He has been the cement holding together the parties of Pakatan Rakyat with their diverse political philosophies and varying political agendas. "I believe he'll be prime minister one day. Certainly, he will continue to be the main player in Malaysian politics for many years to come," Zaid told his audience. Read in full here.