Give Zahid a chance. He cannot be worse than Najib

by Zaid Ibrahim

OPINION: Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is the deputy prime minister and, for all intents and purposes, also deputy president of Umno.

He has to tell the prime minister, in no uncertain terms, that the changeover in power has to take place as soon as the Sarawak election is done, and not a day longer.

Zahid must put the interests of the country first, even if it means taking such a step puts himself at risk. He has to carry out this putsch.

We have endured the travails of 1MDB for so long now and it’s time for this period to end. I agree with the prime minister that we have to move on – but we must do so without him.

Some of my friends in the Opposition camp and the NGOs do not agree with me that Zahid should take over. They claim that Zahid is worse than Najib. I find that hard to comprehend. Although I do not know Zahid well, I can say with some certainty that it’s hard to be worse than the present PM.

What Zahid tends to show too much of are his Islamic and Malay leanings, and sometimes those responsible for managing his image do not position him well as a potential prime minister for all. But that can be overcome. He is actually a nice person.

Like I told Sinar Harian recently, it matters little to me if Umno wants someone else other than Zahid as the next prime minister. What I find intolerable is the paralysis in our system of government, and the ruling coalition of politicians’ failure to react to wrongdoings of this scale, committed by the leader of the country no less. Is this the way forward for us?

I know that Kim Jong-un will remain leader of North Korea unless he is killed or removed by a military coup – because the Kim family can do no wrong in North Korea – but surely we are not taking that road to perdition?

When will things get bad enough for Umno/BN stalwarts to finally take action? Do they have their own threshold that they observe, which a leader must cross before he must go? They can keep using the Media Prima media apparatus to repeatedly spread propaganda to the unsuspecting rakyat, but these leaders must surely know the facts by now. I can’t believe they have started believing in their own lies, and no longer know where the red line is.

Do these Umno leaders even have a red line? Don’t they care about what their party members and Malays feel about the issue? Don’t they care about what the world thinks of them?

I am sure they do, and that the only thing that stops them from reacting and doing something to remove Najib is fear of retaliation by the PM. A political party that knows no boundaries, that accepts a leader out of fear and that defends lies and breaches of the law with impunity will turn Malaysia into a failed state one day.

Zahid may not be democratic. He may not even be squeaky clean, but as long as we hold to the parliamentary principle of the majority party ruling the government, then we have to accept him as the new prime minister. Umno leaders who keep saying give Najib another chance must rephrase that line: Give Zahid a chance.

ZAID IBRAHIM is a former Law Minister. He blogs at THE ZAIDGEIST.

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