Earning its maverick label, Penang voters have dared to go against the political tide even before the 2008 political tsunami. Will Penangites’ fiercely independent streak favor Pakatan Rakyat once again in GE13? Penang State EXCO for Religious Affairs, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Abdul Malik Kassim shares his formula and wishlist with Izmil Amri .
Abdul Malik Abdul Kassim, 58, is the State Assemblyman for Batu Maung. He is also the state EXCO for Religious Affairs, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs. He is the PKR Nibong Tebal Chairman, PKR Tanjung division chief and state liaison committee secretary.
The Rocket: What is your prediction for GE13?
Abdul Malik: God willing, we are confident to keep the 29 of seats that we (PR) have. If we get lucky we may even increase the number of seats. There is always potential to improve.
The mood of the people is clear. We have a large number of hardcore supporters. These are not necessarily party members but they support the PR government.
What’s more important are the fence-sitters. BN is also targeting them. But we believe it is difficult for the BN to win them over using their recent political style of persecution and hatred. People are getting bored of it. So this is an advantage to us (PR).
The Rocket: So retaining Penang is pretty much in the bag for PR?
Abdul Malik: We do not have the motto of “dulu kini dan selamanya”. For us (PR), today is the beginning and the end. We live in the moment. We are not sure whether or not tomorrow will be on our side. So we are well prepared and work hard all the time.
We have not stopped worked after the last General Election. Technical aspects, such as training of PACA (polling agents, counting agents) are always attended to. Our spirit and determination remains steadfast. There is no guarantee for us tomorrow if there is no effort today.
The Rocket: Despite various efforts, PR still gets flak about Malays being “left behind”… Is PR being defamed and maligned?
Abdul Malik: For me it is simple. We have to look at political elements in Penang. Practically speaking, if Penang has 90 per cent Chinese and 10 per cent Malays, maybe it is easy for Lim Guan Eng to ignore the Malay minority.
But the reality is not so. Penang Malays make up more than 40 percent of the population. PR or DAP’s political survival depends on the Malay support. Guan Eng will not be stupid enough to ignore the Malays. It is not logical, it doesn’t make sense… because the facts are clear. If that happens, both Guan Eng and DAP will be finished.
I rely on this element. In my constituency Batu Maung, the (racial) ratio is about 50-50, I must take care of all races. I am a PKR representative. Similarly, Guan Eng as DAP elected representative has to take care of all races.
DAP’s future depends on the party’s own policies. DAP is a multi-racial party and it should be seen as multi-racial party. If I can see this political reality, it is impossible for Guan Eng to not see it.
The Rocket: How will electoral fraud impact PR?
Abdul Malik: We have to face the facts. In order for BN to maintain power, they will not meet Bersih’s demands for free and fair elections. We cannot hope for UMNO-BN to change because they know if they do, that is the end of their story.
So we’ll continue to fight. We must win in the next election in order to fix this (electoral fraud). We want this victory so that we can bring change.
The Rocket: Why should people choose PR?
Abdul Malik: There is a very simple reason. The UMNO-BN coalition has become stubborn. They regard bribes and corruption as their flesh and blood. Without corruption, UMNO will not be able to survive. Meanwhile, the nation pays the price for these corrupt political practices.
PR has shown that it can curb corruption… particularly in Penang and Selangor you can see how the people have profited. This is the most important reason why we need to vote for PR.
In addition if we (PR) can win the general election, and UMNO-BN loses, we can indirectly create a two-party system. This is good for people, unlike a single ruling party.
We do not even want to be preoccupied with power. Without a two party system, any party that wins will be too powerful and eventually it will turn into a corrupt government.
All this will be history if BN is defeated in GE 13. There will be a new era… the birth of a new dimension of politics. Check and balance is a very effective system.
PR wants to introduce many new policies. For example, I want to suggest that we limit the term of office for the Prime Minister to a maximum of two or three terms. This will help change (the system) for a better and more transparent Malaysia.
The Rocket: How about PR’s ability to lead Penang?
Abdul Malik: I was born and bred in Penang and have been observing the political scene since the late 1970s. PR is a strong combination and we hope it is sustainable. We are sticking together not only to gain ruling power. Our parties share the same basic principles especially competency, accountability, and transparency. In the past 4 years, our track record has proven that we are able to govern well. -The Rocket