Parti Kuasa Rakyat should make its position clear

Parti Kuasa Rakyat should make its position clear

Parti Kuasa Rakyat should make its position clear

This new party will be launched tomorrow by the founder Kamarulzaman Yaakob, the prime minister’s elder brother. A news portal says the event will be held at an exclusive venue in Kuala Lumpur.

Lunch will be served, I believe. Although not invited, I am looking forward to being there, as I am excited whenever a new party is born.

I don’t know Kamarulzaman, although he was my contemporary in student politics. I was closer to a dedicated socialist, Hishamuddin Rais.

Of course, the prime mover of “marhainism” or “the party for the poor” was Anwar Ibrahim, although Anwar was more of an “Islamist”, banding his political ideas with Islamic content.

Hishamuddin and Kamarulzaman could be described, in those days, as democratic socialists. Somewhat similar to the genuine socialist Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj from Sungei Siput.

Kamarulzaman felt he was a victim when allegations of a political conspiracy were bandied about regarding his new party because his brother is the prime minister and an Umno leader.

He should not worry what others say. If he is genuinely interested in realigning national politics so that government policies are more friendly to the working class, then he deserves support. His party is more exciting than the multitude of Malay-only, Muslim-only, Chinese-only and Indian-only parties. They are so dull and bereft of ideas.

It is also alright for Kamarulzaman to support his brother, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, as he has proudly declared. It’s only natural.

After all, Ismail is only the second prime minister who is not from the wealthy class and so he could be more sympathetic to the issues of the poor. In fact, I think our prime minister will support some of his elder brother’s initiatives if presented coherently to the government.

But Kamarulzaman has to have his eyes wide open and must be willing to be objective about what is happening in the country.

Is he willing to criticise government policies and laws that are inimical to the welfare of the workers and the poor?

Will he ask for the repeal of certain laws that criminalise criticisms of the elites and aristocrats so that a more transparent and accountable society can rise?

I need to remind him that what is hard in this country is not having a brother as a prime minister but pursuing political ideals that are democratic and egalitarian. The challenge is to imbue our society with the right values to attain a fair and just environment for everyone.

Fairness means that if the government approves the registration of Parti Kuasa Rakyat, then Kamarulzaman must also fight for Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s party, Muda, to be registered. Will he do that?

How does Kamarulzaman hope to address the myopic and occasionally toxic issues of privileges and rights (famously known as Article 153) so that the poor “marhain”, regardless of race and religion can get a fair deal?

To dismantle decades of selfish policies designed to protect the rich and the ruling class requires absolute honesty and integrity. It requires great material sacrifice.

Perhaps launching the new party at an exclusive venue is a wrong signal to give if we are fighting for the poor.

Let Bersatu and Umno carry the symbol of wealth and arrogance. Let Pejuang and Perkasa, and PAS have the image of “exclusive racial and religious clubs”.

Parti Kuasa Rakyat has to shape itself more along the lines of successful socialist parties in other countries. The struggle will be long and hard.

Unless Kamarulzaman is willing to do this, then he and his party will not succeed. He will be remembered as just another political operative willing to play a designated role, to placate and please the rich and the powerful.

We already have so many such players in our political midst.

Zaid Ibrahim is a former federal minister.

Parti Kuasa Rakyat should make its position clear

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