(Media Statement in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 29th May 2014)
I have no doubt that my old friend, Tan Sri Sabbaruddin Chik would have voted for Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud as Member of Parliament for Teluk Intan if he is a voter in the Teluk Intan by-election on Saturday, May 31, as there are no signs that the present UMNO/Barisan Nastional (BN) have the political will either for reform or to launch an all-out war against corruption, cronyism and abuses of power to win over the young generation of Malaysians.
Sabbaruddin has just been sacked as Bank Rakyat Chairman by the Minister for Domestic Trade, Co-operative and Consumerism Datuk Seri Hasan Malek because Sabbarruddin and the bank’s board of directors refused to comply with the Minister’s directive to approve the settlement of a RM32 million loan without calculation of any interest, but on a 120 post-dated cheques to be cashed in by the bank over a 10-year period.
Today, Sabbaruddin warned that Barisan will lose Putrajaya in the 14th general election (GE14) if young voters remain unimpressed with the coalition and its handling of issues such as corruption and transparency.
He said the younger generation was no longer stupid, and Umno and BN were in for an unprecedented nightmare should Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his administration carry on without any meaningful reforms.
“In the next general election, I am worried that if we do nothing, we will face bigger problems… most of the Generation Y are not with us,” Sabbaruddin told The Malaysian Insider.
In 2013, 70% of the estimated 4.2 million unregistered voters were between the ages of 21 and 40. Some 450,000 Malaysians turn 21 each year, the eligible voting age in the country.
Sabbaruddin did not rule out the possibility that BN would lose half the seats it managed to cling to in last year’s general election, which already saw the ruling coalition lose the popular vote in its worst polls showing in history.
Sabbarruddin, who was UMNO Secretary-General in 1996, said: “If there are no serious changes, we will lose half. Now, (we have lost the) two-thirds (majority)”.
“Corruption, leakages and transparency must be emphasised,” he said, adding that these were the main factors behind the youths’ rejection of BN.
Sabbaruddin said only luck had helped Najib remain in power until now, although his leadership had led BN to its worst showing in the 13th general election last year.
“Najib was lucky because he took over from Pak Lah,” said Sabbarudin, referring to Abdullah by his popular moniker.
“If Najib had taken over from Dr Mahathir (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad), he would have had to resign as well. Najib may be lucky, but he cannot rely on luck forever,” he added.
Sabbaruddin was one of the “promising young blood” brought into UMNO/Barisan government from the civil service in the early eighties, serving as Deputy Minister and Minister for close to two decades.
But the infusion of “promising young blood” into UMNO and Barisan since the eighties which had included Anwar Ibrahim at the time, have not seen the triumph of national reform, regeneration and rejuvenation but worsening corruption, cronyism and abuses of power in all aspects of political life, particularly in the decade of the 22-year Mahathir premiership.
In the five terms we served together in Parliament from 1982 to 1999, Sabbaruddin has always struck me as a down-to-earth, decent and humble politician who had no airs whatsoever. He had always been forthright and never minced his words, as what was important to him were the truths and to call a spade a spade.
Sabbaruddin is a firm believer that UMNO members at all levels should not abuse their position in the party and should not allow friends or members of the family to influence decisions or take advantage of the positions of power that is entrusted to UMNO leaders.
As he had said many a time, when UMNO is given the mandate to lead and serve Malaysians, it is not for UMNO to serve themselves and make them rich. UMNO should be fighting for the benefits and prosperity of the masses and not some individuals only.
Such Umno Ministes and leaders appear to have become an endangered species or he would not have been sacked as Bank Rakyat Chairman.
Dyana’s victory in the Teluk Intan by-election will be an electrifying message of advent of the new Malaysian politics of justice, freedom, accountability and good governance to replace the divisive and destructive politics of racial hatred, corruption and cronyism.
Let it be a final warning to UMNO and Barisan that they are heading for the dustbin of history unless they heed the voices of the young voters and Malaysians like Dyana Sofya for change, and change urgently and immediately.
History will be made in Teluk Intan and Malaysia on May 31 if Dyana is elected as MP for Teluk Intan, especially if her first parliamentary tasks is to demand full accountability from Najib for the sacking of Sabbarruddin Chik as Bank Rakyat Chairman when Parliament reconvenes on June 9.