PETALING JAYA (Dec 4, 2008): By Maria J.Dass
Sacked by Umno on Tuesday, former de facto law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim today rejected overtures to join other political parties, preferring instead to use his independence and freedom to contribute to society in his own way.
He accused Umno of practicing double standards and selective persecution as there were people in the party who ridiculed the president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and made racist remarks but are still in the party.
“There have been many violations by some of its members but no action is taken because they are powerful,” said Zaid, adding that he could drag the matter to court but did not want a hollow victory as he is not wanted by the party anyway.
He denied that he had been inviting the expulsion by consorting with opposition parties, a main reason for his sacking.
“I did not attend the DAP dinner or Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) dinner to provoke anyone. I was there to listen, on the invitation of friends. They are not our enemies but people who just have different opinions,” he said.
Commenting on the statement by Umno vice president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that he was a ‘small guy’ in the party, Zaid said: “Yes, I am a small guy in the party without any influence, but even small men have the right to response or to defend themselves.”
He said the words of these leaders also highlights how much the party has lost touch with the “small people” who vote and who decide on the future of the country.
“I was surprised at the way it (the sacking) was done. There was no show-cause letter and no explanation sought, I only found out from an SMS at midnight which read ‘Zaid sacked’,” he said.
Zaid said his sacking was a result of the conflict of his ideas with that of some party leaders who refuse to accept that the party needs to change even after the huge losses in the March 8 general election.
Asked if he blamed Abdullah for the sacking, Zaid replied: “Abdullah is a nice guy and on his own, he won’t sack me. But he could not even maintain himself (party president’s post).”
Zaid said: “My one regret is that I was misunderstood by my colleagues, on the issue of helping the Malays - which is that Umno and the government must provide support and guidance to the Bumiputras, but on the basis of need and merit as this will make them more competitive, imbued with confidence and be self-reliant.”
He added that Umno has also lost sight of its original role as provider and caretaker of all the communities.
Speaking of where the party was headed, he said: “It is not easy to get people to follow you if you are not tolerant. One can only use the whip to ensure obedience to a point.”
He said it was difficult to establish strong race relations if a party keeps referring to other citzens as “pendatang” (immigrants) and suggest things like closing down vernacular schools.
“You cannot just force people to do something, there needs to be a lot of understanding of the situation and in difficult time like the present, it helps to sit down and discuss things with each other,” Zaid said.
Speaking of accusations that he gained much from Umno in terms of his success as a lawyer, Zaid said: “I’m like anybody else in the country, I work hard and I’m an ordinary lawyer.
I deserve my success and people cannot use this argument to say I am ungrateful.”
He asked: "How will the Malays ever succeed if you keep telling them 'you are not good, you are only successful because of me'.”
He said he is retired form his firm and will concentrate on community-enrichment programmes through .myFuture Foundation of which he is the chairman and founder.
“I have no political ambitions or want to become anybody, I just want to contribute to the country by helping especially the youth to understand our country’s history and constitution better and find ways to resolve conflicts in our communities,” Zaid said.