New-gen Malaysian activists must be ruthless yet aware of enemies within

THE entry of activists like Adam Adli, Asheeq Ali Sethi Alivi and Sarah Hadi into active politics is good news as the infusion of young blood will energise the reform movement that Malaysia so desperately.

This is because many existing Malaysian leaders are old – not only by virtue of their biological age – but their ideas and ways of thinking, admitted former de-facto Law Minister Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim.

“Many of them are still stuck with prejudices and taboos that inhibit them from implementing good progressive policies,” he revealed in his latest Facebook posting. “The country will not progress with leaders who are not able to change.”

In wanting the young activists to be successful in politics – “and not a failed one like me” – Zaid advised the new generation leaders to be realistic of their expectations.

“Politics is a hard place even for the most tenacious and persistent amongst us. Sometimes our exuberance for change and eagerness to quickly implement reforms can be the cause of our downfall,” he shared.

Zaid Ibrahim

“Reform and change are usually incremental. It also requires one to be ruthless and decisive when dealing with the “enemies’ from within, failing which your enemies and ambitious opponents from within your circle will undermine you. It is important to be always careful and vigilant.”

Reminiscing his involvement in politics, the former Kelantan DAP chairman said he was a supporter and active organiser of the students’ movement initiated by Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and social activist Hishammuddin Rais on poverty in Baling and other rural areas of Kedah in the early 1970s.

“Later on, I was told the Baling demonstration was ‘masterminded’ by (Tun) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) to topple the then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. If that was so, I regret my role in that event as I was very fond of our first Prime Minister,” he lamented.

Imparting more wisdom to the young activists, Zaid reminded them never to assume getting a good position or financial rewards if their parties were to come to power.

“When Pakatan (Harapan) came to power in 2018, some of my friends probably remembered my contributions, small though they might be,” he recalled. “Mohamad Sabu Lim Guan Eng and M. Kulasegaran tried to get me a position (nothing fancy but something useful) but the ‘higher-ups’ overruled them.

“Maybe I was not qualified for the jobs but I suspect there were those in power who did not want me because I never like to kiss hands nor would I take orders blindly. I am just guessing.”

In wishing the young activists good luck, Zaid said they stand a better chance of success if they remain true to their beliefs and be always financially independent.

“People around do not always help you when you are in difficulties although real friends will stand by you,” he stressed. “For your family’s sake, you must start saving and do not spend beyond your means in the pursuit of your cause. Politics can be addictive, so know your limits.” – Sept 17, 2021

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