Kakakakakaka … oh, look, it’s KJ!
Poster credit: Husin Lempoyang
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is wildly popular among some segments of the Malay crowd. The Home Minister’s popularity is nothing to be surprised about. Guan Eng, for example, is so popular among many Chinese that at times he needs a human chain linked around him — not to protect him against hecklers but from his over-eager, adoring fans.
“DAP SuperCyber Bully” @imokman (Ong Kian Ming) is popular too. He is “a star!’
Khairy Jamaluddin is popular. He has 368,167 Twitter followers. Shahrizat is hugely popular among her Wanita Umno members. But despite the big fan clubs, all the aforementioned political personalities are bad news for their party.
Doubtless Zahid’s tough guy act has won him many Umno admirers. But with or without Zahid, would these individuals ever have voted the opposition in the last election? No, right?
Okay, now supposing the impossible happens and Zahid is knocked off his vice presidency perch. Would these same individuals who are the Zahid cheerleaders be psychologically affected by his fate so much so that in the next GE they refuse to vote Umno or otherwise cast their ballot for PAS or PKR? The answer is still ‘no’, am I correct?
So there is really nothing Zahid can do, and nor is there anything that he can fail to do, which might cause a shift to either direction the core Umno support (i.e. those forming an identical subset with his current Malay fans). In other words, Zahid’s antics neither takes away from nor in any way adds to Umno’s vote bank within the party milieu.
However Zahid’s behaviour is most certainly costing Umno among the more objective observers outside.
Zaid on Zahid
Zaid Ibrahim, the former law minister, has called for Zahid’s sacking. According to Zaid, the “shoot first” approach to law enforcement as advocated by Zahid signals that there is “no need for investigation and public trial”.
“Zahid Hamidi should be replaced immediately if the PM is to salvage anything left of his administration,” Zaid told The Malay Mail Online via email (source: Yahoo! News).
Suaram has similarly called for Zahid’s sacking (source: Malaysiakini)
MCA deputy president Liow Tiong Lai urged Zahid “to stop spreading unfounded racial statements that will create discomfort among other races” while Kedah Gerakan chief Tan Keng Liang called on the BN to take disciplinary action against Zahid “for making the statement that could stir racial tension” (source: FMT).
MCA vice president Gan Ping Sieu harrumphed that Zahid’s remark was “most unbecoming” (source: TMI).
Echoing Gan in rebuking Zahid’s conduct as “unbecoming of a minister” is Gerakan vice-president A. Kohilan Pillay who said in a press statement: “This will only anger the public more, causing the reputation of the force which is already in the gutter to plunge deeper” (source: The Malaysian Times).
The Bar Council condemned the recent statements by Zahid as shameful and having brought “the government and the country into disrepute” (source: TMI).
Hindraf is alarmed that Zahid is creating “very dangerous tendencies” with his racially inflammatory statements.
The organization’s national advisor N. Ganesan cautioned how the dangerous part is that such statements, coming from a minister, will open up “all kinds of possibilities for the most right wing elements … being given open licences to muscle their positions along this racial line and extend what the minister has implied, deeper into the fabric of our society” (source: fz.com).
Note that I’ve not quoted Ambiga or any of the DAP politicians calling for his removal. Even Zahid’s own side among the BN people who find it difficult to condone his behaviour are too many already.
Various NGOs called for Zahid’s sacking (source: FMT).
The Chinese newspaper editors association said “race relations in Malaysia had been deteriorating steadily since the May 5 general election, with certain politicians raising sensitive issues to gain political mileage” in its statement of regret over Zahid (source: Malaysiakini).
Lowyat — a Top 15 local website hosting a cili padi discussion board – put up a Kopitiam thread titled ‘People getting angrier at Zahid Hamidi‘.
Zahid’s rant: Video that’s gone viral
Hear him for yourself.
The following federal ministers are among Zahid’s Umno colleagues in Cabinet — Shafie Apdal, Mustapa Mohamed, Shabery Cheek, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, Anifah Aman, Rohani Abdul Karim, Hasan Malek, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, Idris Jusoh, Shahidan Kassim, Abdul Rahman Dahlan.
None of them are anywhere near as controversial as Zahid, with perhaps the sole exception of Nazri Aziz.
The Prime Minister Najib Razak and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin do not lose their temper in public. Even the keris-waver Hishammuddin Hussein had not gone visibly berserk.
Ex-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad was at the pinnacle of power for 22 years and he has never lost his composure.
Zahid has only been the Home Minister for six months but yet managed to raise the ire of almost every cross-section of Malaysian society bar the Umno rightists. The pro-establishment elements who are Zahid’s fan base should ponder on this fact.
Winning the battle and losing the war
When the jaguh kampung beats the war drums, he wins the chest-thumping contest among the Umno hawks. But that’s merely menang sorak, kampung tergadai.
Remember that BN won 47 percent of the popular vote in GE13 to the opposition’s 51 percent. If you still cannot see why Zahid is self-destructive to Umno, then you haven’t learned the lesson on why BN is lagging behind in securing public confidence.
I’m going to make a prediction that the ‘Allah’ verdict, to be delivered by the Court of Appeal next week on the eve of Hari Raya Korban, will go the way of the government. This means the native Christian votes in Sabah and Sarawak are no longer fixed deposits for the BN, especially not when DAP’s ‘Impian Sarawak’ project is setting up branches in 21 rural constituencies in the state.
On account of the misadventures of Zahid alone, how many more percentages do you reckon that the popular support for BN will nosedive? In the closely fought constituencies, a thin margin of 2-3% can make the difference between victory and defeat.
If you think that Shahrizat was damaging to BN’s fortunes, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Zahid’s loose cannon has the potential to ‘fire at will’ and inflict untold damage to the electoral chances of anyone in the BN. In the past GE, the inadvertent victims of similar circumstances were Saifuddin Abdullah and Ali Rustam who failed to retain/capture their seats.
Thus it is Zahid’s own party and coalition allies who should fear him more than his enemies do.