By Yow Hong Chieh
KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — PKR’s outspoken candidate Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has asked Hulu Selangor voters to elect him on April 25, saying MIC has had 18 years there and voting them back is “like giving Mahathir another chance”.
The former law minister said the 64,500 voters should choose someone who understands their problems and also articulate their voice in Parliament.
“Enough is enough. How many times was that? It’s been 18 years. It’s like giving Mahathir another chance, for instance. You’ve had 22 years, that’s enough,” the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) ideologue told The Malaysian Insider in an interview yesterday.Yesterday evening, PKR and PR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced his name to a cheering crowd in Serendah, saying the man who quit as a Cabinet minister to defend the people in 2008 will now help defend the Hulu Selangor electorate.
The Hulu Selangor seat fell vacant after the death of PKR MP Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad, who ended MIC deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel’s 18-year stint representing the sprawling federal seat the size of Malacca.
“MIC’s been at it for 18 years, so how many more years will you give them? Another 18 years before your problem is solved? There is no reason the people of Hulu Selangor should give MIC another term. You should try me lah,” Zaid addressed the electorate the first time as candidate.
The Kelantan-born lawyer, who built his firm into the country’s largest partnership before entering the Cabinet in 2008, believed the voters understand what is at stake in Hulu Selangor.
“The stakes are very high. Firstly, do we want this country to continue to be ruled by BN, an administration that, in my opinion, not only has no respect for the law but one that will use any excuse to stay in power?
“Do we want BN to carry on like this, or do we want to make sure that the voice of the people is heard as well? If we want to the people’s voice to be heard in Parliament, we should vote for the opposition. That is the issue from the point of national politics,” he said.
Zaid also spoke on the local issues afflicting the semi-rural constituency, listing them out as abandoned housing, un-issued land grants, unprocessed land grant applications, joblessness and problems affecting the Felda settlements and estates in the area.
“As for local issues, it’s simple. Whoever they vote for must be able to solve their problems. MIC has been in power there for four terms, for 18 years. If the people of Hulu Selangor want to stick with MIC, they can pick MIC — that’s if they’re satisfied with MIC’s performance.
“But judging by the problems we see now, I think MIC has failed in Hulu Selangor. If we want to pick someone who has failed once more, I don’t know,” the maverick politician said.
In the interview, Zaid spoke of Barisan Nasional’s strategy to label him as an outside unable to relate to Hulu Selangor and the problems in the constituency.
“I know. And I wish to speak about orang luar (outsider) and dalam (local). That’s what people keep bringing up, right? It’s not a question of luar or dalam. It’s a question of whether or not the candidate knows the problems and can do something about it. That’s the question.
“I’ve lived in Selangor for 30 years now. Even though I was born in Kelantan, I’m a Selangor resident, so I’m not an orang luar,” he stressed.Asked why he wanted to enter Parliament again after his last stint representing Umno, Zaid said simply, “I want to voice the desires of the people, the people’s desire to seek freedom, the people’s desire to seek better economic opportunities, a better economy and the desire of Felda settlers to have a better life.
“I want to try to defend their positions and interests. I want to try to get land grants for those don’t own land and have asked for it, those who have been waiting for 20 years now. I want to fight for the rights of the Orang Asli, I want to fight for the Indians whose estates have been reduced or whose jobs have been terminated.
“There are many Indian youths looking for job opportunities. So I will try to convince the state of Selangor to bring investment, bring development, bring new industries so that we get more job opportunities. This is the job of the representative,” he said.
Zaid, who was elected as Kota Bharu MP for one term in 2004 before being dropped by Umno in Election 2008, said he just wanted to help the people just like a former Tumpat state assemblyman years ago.
“I remember one state assemblyman from Tumpat. This was many years ago. I mean, he got no job, no family, he’s just a full-time representative. He’s popular. He doesn’t want it, actually. Every time during elections he’ll say, “Enough, enough,” but the people just want him. And the reason I think is because he’s genuine. He really wants to help the people.
“That is my sort of role model. I hope one day the people of Hulu Selangor will see me as the people of Tumpat remember Che Lah. I mean, I would like the people of Hulu Selangor to remember me as a caring MP.
“I’m not interested in glamour-glamour, kompang-kompang, getting school kids to clap for me. There’s no need. I want people to remember me as a caring politician. The rakyat (people) lah; I don’t care if the others don’t like me,” he added.