Datul Zaid Ibrahim has set his mind on resigning from the Cabinet, citing his disappointment with “meeting a brick wall” from his own colleagues and party members on many of his suggestions for reform.
The former de facto Law Minister also said he did not want many of the problems arising from his proposals earlier to be a burden on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at a time when the latter had to grapple with party conflict and other challenges.
“I don’t want the PM to be beset by problems involving me and it’s better for him to focus instead on other more important matters. Let me not be the problem. Although I thanked the Prime Minister for his suggestion that I go on leave instead, I am not tired. I’m just disappointed so I don’t have to rest.
“I have decided to quit and I pray that the PM will be able to overcome all the problems he is facing, and that he remains as Umno president and Prime Minister to accomplish what he has set out to do.
“I apologise to all Malaysians because of my weaknesses, I have failed. This is my decision as well as that of my wife and my family,” he told reporters Tuesday in a 40-minute press conference at his office here.
Zaid said his decision to quit was thus “best for his party, the country and for everyone”, adding that he had told Abdullah, when he first took up the post, that he would be doing so based on his desire to help the PM and change Barisan Nasional.
“It has not been a mistake to take up the offer,” he stressed.
He however maintained that Abdullah had been supportive of his initiation for legal reforms “within his own constraints” and that he was not disappointed with the premier.
“He’s a nice man. I hope my departure will trigger some change and some feelings of positive reaction from my party,” he said to a question on why he was giving up now when he had been so adamant before on bringing about legal and judiciary reforms.
Describing himself as a “man of deep responsibility”, Zaid pointed out that in the six months he had been Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, he had “gone through a lot”, ranging from having been hurled with accusations of not standing up for his own race and religion to being criticised in Parliament.
“In this short time, I was facing a brick well. I cannot translate what I want to do, particularly on issues such as equal rights for everyone as stated under the Constitution. I think I have failed to convince those in authority and positions of power to effect those changes which will allow this Government to move forward,” he said.
However, Zaid stressed that he harboured no hard feelings for his Cabinet colleagues, many of whom had also been harsh in their criticism of him, and said he hoped to maintain a good rapport with them.
Zaid had tendered his resignation to Abdullah in a meeting at Seri Perdana on Monday but was told to “take two weeks’ leave instead”.
In his resignation letter, the Senator had enumerated his frustrations in achieving the reforms he had been tasked with doing; the straw that broke his back was the arrest of three civilians under the Internal Security Act on Friday
Asked if he would now leave Umno and join opposition party PKR as speculated, Zaid admitted that he had not been “treated well” by Umno - even suspended once on charges of money politics.
“Many of those who have criticised me are from Umno. Sometimes, I feel that I should change, instead of them. I don’t know PKR well. It’s too early to say, I have an open mind. But I haven’t made any decision to join PKR or anybody else,” he said, adding that he however had not been courted.
Asked for his advice before leaving the Cabinet, Zaid said the Government must overcome a psychological barrier and start trusting its own people it if were to build “one country, one system.”
“If you can’t bring yourself to that level of trust, you will always worry which policy benefits which group. You can have race based party but you don’t have to be racist bigots,” he said.
Zaid said there might be “somebody else” now more suitable for the task and denied being a “hero” as claimed by many of his supporters and fans. “I don’t care who the PM is. I just want to see transformation,” he said.
The Star Tuesday September 16, 2008 MYT 7:15:13 PM