"" THE ROAD NOT TAKEN: An Open Letter To The Home Minister

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Friday, 24 May 2013

An Open Letter To The Home Minister

MAY 24 — Dear Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi,

I write to you as someone who has followed your political ascension from Umno Youth chief to your current position as minister of home affairs.

As a young university student, I watched with pride when you took on the then Umno president and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the issue of cronyism and nepotism at the 1998 Umno General Assembly. At the time it was unthinkable for someone so low in the ladder in politics to take on the all-powerful Dr Mahathir.

Over the years I have noticed that you have mellowed in speaking out on issues that someone like me (young urban middle class) would hold dear and value. Young individuals like me yearn for a level playing field as we lack the connections and cables that the connected and family members of politicians and businessmen have access to.

I was not surprised with the results of the 2008 general election, even less with the results of the 2013 general election. The more the leadership in Barisan Nasional (BN) speak less about the issues that are of concern to the urban middle-class electorate, then it is only natural that you begin to lose the support of that electorate. The correlation should be by now painfully obvious to those who seek the truth.

There are two ways in which political parties and politicians can react to sliding support among the masses — they can either seek to halt and reverse the declining support, or they can seek solace within their comfort zone or cocoon of ignorance until it is too late.

Sir, I don’t need to tell you that the most important issues today affecting the urban populace are education, security and cost of living. Issues that although as important to all Malaysians are probably more to so those who live in urban centres.

Dear Datuk Seri, although Umno may have won the majority of the rural votes cast, it lost the popular vote. I know you will say that this is irrelevant in a country that practises a first-past-the-post system, but that would be fooling oneself into thinking that all is well, especially when you know that the urban demography is a demography that is the most educated, most critical in their thinking and the most discerning, probably a key demography any political party worth their salt will do their best to court as they key supporters.

I am glad that the key portfolio of the Home Ministry is now yours. I am sure you of all people will be aware that different times call for different measures, no longer will Malaysians be easily subdued, easily persuaded or easily fooled by half measures. Nothing less than sincerity of intention and purpose, easily detected through action, will do. The days of saying one thing and doing another and getting away with it are over, in no small measure thanks to the alternative media which is free from state censorship.

In business one sells one’s products not by running down one’s competitor, one sells one’s products by highlighting their advantages and virtues. By far this is the best and proven method of sale. I firmly belief if your ministry can reduce the anxiety of the people who depend on your ministry to feel safe, then you would have won half the battle. Security is a bigger issue in the urban centres than in the rural constituencies, solve these problems and you will win their support. The ball is in your court not with the opposition.

Datuk Seri, I look forward to this national reconciliation process as announced by the prime minister. I am sure that you will lead the way as one of his most trusted lieutenants. I assume that reconciliation here means reaching out to all Malaysians, even the ones who didn’t vote for BN.

Leave the days of sledgehammer politics to a generation past, a generation who benefited from the absence of the alternative media, who could get away with murder because people did not have access to information.

No government in the world will blame the electorate for choosing freely who they wish, neither would they achieve anything by doing so. I pray that God gives you and the leadership of this country the wisdom and ability to win any election in future in a free and fair manner, respected for the work that you do, for upholding democracy and trusting the electorate.

I am sure whether we like the form of democracy or not in this country we all still love this country, having been born here we would wish to die here. As a fellow Malaysian I wish you all the best and hope to see you do great things through your ministry. Say and do the morally right thing and we will be with you.

Sir, I sincerely hope that you do well in the next general election. I would hate to see you do well in Umno but fail at the next general election.

Yours sincerely,

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