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Zaid Ibrahim delivers his harshest criticism of UMNO yet - malaysiakini

Malaysiakini's report:

Former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim is not convinced that Umno - which forms the backbone of Barisan Nasional - can reform itself.


zaid ibrahim pc 111108 04"I doubt it," the Umno politician told reporters when the question was posed to him during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur this morning.

"Even if the leader of Umno wants real reforms and not cosmetic ones, the crop of top leaders in the party will oppose it," he said.

According to Zaid, Umno is mired in a philosophy of autocracy or guidance type leadership, which makes the voice of the grassroots more distant and often unheard.

"There has been no contest for number one for the longest time. Only after a long lapse a contest for the deputy presidency emerges. The political culture is hard to change," he said.

The key factor for change, he pointed out, are the many young and talented members in the party but he is not certain if they could reach the top.

Contest for No 2

The lawyer-turned-politician was also cryptic when he made a prognosis of the race for the Umno deputy presidency.

"I thought there is no fight. Deputy presidents are anointed, don't you think? Who number one wants will win (the number two post)," he said.

The Umno deputy presidency will witness a three-way battle between International Trade and Industry Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, Melaka Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam and Rural and Regional Development Minister Muhammad Muhd Taib.

The last contest for the post transpired in 1987 when even the president’s post held by former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad was challenged by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Meanwhile, Zaid said he was not planning to step out of politics entirely but is comfortable being an independent voice for the moment.

"Race, democracy and justice are key components for this country, I can contribute to their causes," said the former Kota Bharu MP.

"I can be more effective if I speak as an independent for the time being," he added.

Zaid, who has just started a foundation called MyFuture, said he would devote his time to turn it into a tool to help Malaysians become more cognisant of their country and exchange ideas on important issues.

Slams police over arrests

In another development, the former minister also lambasted the police for arresting more than 20 people during a candlelight vigil last night.

"The police must realise that from time to time the Malaysian public will want to get together to express themselves.

"Peaceful assemblies have to be tolerated, as other democracies do," he said.

Zaid felt that the present government was using colonial laws to stifle public dissent.

"It will only results in more protests and more violence and the country will suffer for it," he added -

Looks like Zaid is going to cut all ties with UMNO soon.