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Zaid Ibrahim: Reformer or sore loser?

In Umno…

“Umno is the only party that I know and am associated with. It is always my hope that Umno will change and I will stay in the party to see through these changes.”

Former Umno politician Datuk Zaid Ibrahim‘s response when asked if he would quit Umno after he lost his division chief post in 2007.

In 2005, the Umno disciplinary board found Zaid guilty of money politics but let him off with a warning. Zaid, however, denied the charges and questioned the board’s credibility. Consequently, he was suspended for 18 months.

The former Kota Baru Member of Parliament (MP) was not reinstated as Kota Baru Umno division chief after his suspension ended. In addition, he was not fielded as a candidate in the 2008 general election.

Nonetheless, former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi appointed Zaid as the de facto law minister in 2008 as part of his initiative to reform the judiciary. (Source: Zaid: I won’t quit Umno, Malaysiakini, 15 Jan 2007)

“I was a man with responsibility but with no authority.”

A frustrated Zaid when he announced his resignation from the cabinet to protest the Internal Security Act (ISA) arrests of Sin Chew Daily reporter Tan Hoon Cheng, DAP’s Seputeh MP Teresa Kok and blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin.

Zaid also lamented that he had failed to convince the government to change despite having served in the cabinet for six months. The Bar Council and opposition parties commended his resignation. (Source: ISA arrests “the last straw” for Zaid, The Nut Graph, 16 Sept 2008)

“They cannot accept the idea of change. Why else are they so angry with me, what have I done?

“My attempt to articulate a new vision, a new approach has been misconstrued as rebellious, as straying from the party struggle.”

Zaid, after being sacked from Umno in December 2008 for attending Pakatan Rakyat (PR) functions, said he would not re-join the party unless it changes. He also doubted Umno’s ability to reform. (Source: Zaid to do it “my way”, The Nut Graph, 4 Dec 2008)


“I’m confident in the party’s cause… I believe I have an opportunity to assist Anwar and PKR.”

Zaid, when his membership of PKR was announced by its de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in June 2009. Zaid said he was “ready to help Pakatan become an alternative and viable government that the people can rely on”. He was later tasked to develop a common manifesto for the coalition. (Source: Ex-Umno minister Zaid joins PKR, Malaysiakini, 13 June 2010)

“I was offered to join this party under the belief that I could promote enlightened and progressive politics… I was mistaken.”

After u-turning on his decision to not contest for deputy presidency, Zaid announced in his blog after two months into the race that he was withdrawing from the contest. He accused the party leadership of condoning electoral fraud and malpractices in the party elections. He also quit all his party posts.

In addition, Zaid blamed Anwar and his rival in the deputy presidential race Azmin Ali as the source of PKR’s problems. He said both should step down and Azmin should be disqualified from contesting for the deputy president post. (Source: Withdrawal from deputy president contest, Zaid untuk rakyat, 8 Nov 2010)

“I am a one-man band now.”

A rueful Zaid comparing himself to street musicians who busk alone. Despite that, he said he would continue to speak out on issues that are important to the people. (Source: Zaid rebrands himself as a ‘one-man band’, Free Malaysia Today, 8 Nov 2010)

“These are ways to ridicule me and destroy my reputation. They say only when I did not get something, I quit. When have I acted like this?”

Zaid told a crowd at PKR Kedah Tengah service centre that he was hurt by the personal attacks of PKR leaders against him. He said he had “sacrificed himself” for his “long-term political agenda”.

Zaid added that he might set up “Keadilan Baru” if he is sacked from the party. (Source: Zaid to set up ‘Keadilan Baru’ if sacked, Malaysiakini, 11 Nov 2010)

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7 Responses to “Zaid Ibrahim: Reformer or sore loser?”

  1. akushaq says:

    Used to think here we have a politician with substance, with his legal credentials and all.

    Pity that he now turns out to be more of an immature, novice politician. If it’s a good fight for change that he truly (read: honestly) yearns for, after all these years, he must have known that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.

    If he must throw in the towel in every ring he enters, then it’s time to go into a different sport. Change can be achieved even outside of politics proper.

  2. Andrew I says:

    The mainstream media is having a field day with this divorce.

    I wonder if they will give him the same kind of attention when he sets up his party.

    Who knows, we might finally get some balanced reporting from them.

    Now that would be miraculous…lah.

  3. Spiritual realist says:

    Zaid should leave PKR. The officials there do not yet have a mental model where competition can be fair. Our people have also not evolved to the stage where we would support such a model. He would fare much better raising awareness all round. We usually get the leaders we deserve.

  4. Wayang Street says:

    Like this lah! Whether Zaid is “good or bad”, Malaysians steeped in old political traditions will eventually show their “true” worth. Change has no loyalties, but it is laden with nurturing and endearing values. Only when one immerses oneself in change can one start to slowly free oneself from the “self”.

    I am excited by this development and see some promise. The politics of yesterday seems, sounds, and looks like stale nasi lemak lah !

    Life is too big to fail!!!

  5. I think Zaid’s words show more than ever true credibility, to reject parties that have shown their hypocrisy when they do not practise what they preach. Bravo, Zaid! Continue to speak the truth fearlessly and expose the hypocrisy in both the ruling government and the opposition. We need more people like Zaid in our country.

  6. Merah Silu says:

    Zaid joined politics and Umno only in 2000. Yes, he was given a silver platter in the Umno hierarchy and led the Umno division in Kelantan. Being a lawyer and having led the biggest law firm in Malaysia gave him an advantage and he was given special attention in politics. After 10 years, however, he can now be considered not just a tested but failed politician … it would be much better for him to go back to his old profession, to practise law. Then he could support Anwar, but this time in court.

  7. rudy says:

    “Kalau takut ombak kuat, jangan buat rumah di tepi pantai” – Taxi driver, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, at the height of the Reformasi era, mid-1999

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