Newly minted Kelantan DAP chairperson Zaid Ibrahim will be meeting the people from Kampung Chap in the east coast state this weekend.
The former law minister was born and raised in this kampung, which sits in the district of Bachok. The district had given birth to political bigwigs such as former minister Mustapha Mohamed and Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa.
Zaid told Malaysiakini that he is expecting some tough questions, such as those wanting to know his reasons for joining DAP, which is perceived as a “Chinese party” despite its multiracial composition.
“I hope to be able to deal with the issue by telling them that if they all join me, then DAP will not be a ‘Chinese party’.
“Some will ask me if I am anti-religious leaders. I will explain that I am not. I am just opposed to the idea that if you are an ustaz or mufti, you know everything about the world,” he added.
As DAP’s representative in Kelantan, which is regarded as a PAS fortress, Zaid said he has a dual-pronged mission.
“To explain to the Malays that DAP is a regular political party, not harmful to the Malays. I am also keen to persuade DAP leaders who are ministers to do more to help a state like Kelantan,” he added.
As for the second part, Zaid acknowledged that it would also be a challenge to convince federal ministers to go all out to help the state.
“This is a historical habit that has to change. In 1990, the federal government lost its hold on the state and Kelantan has been in the hands of PAS ever since.
“This came about because of the short-sighted policy of the then federal leaders of ‘punishing the people ‘ for voting PAS,” he added.
Be fair to all states, including those under opposition
Short of development funds, Zaid said, PAS leaders, led by the charismatic Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, offered the people of Kelantan something else – salvation.
“That was when we often heard the expression ‘Kelantanese do not want development’, that they do not care about material things.
“It cannot be correct because 800,000 Kelantanese are in the Klang Valley looking for comfort and wealth. As a proud people, what they will not do is submit to the whims of leaders in exchange for money.
“I hope the current federal leaders will abandon this approach of not developing states held by opposition parties.
“This approach was a failure for 30 years, and it will fail again. A responsible federal government has to be fair to all the states, even if opposition held. We should develop the country regardless of which party controls the state government,” he added.
Zaid pointed out that by channelling more development funds and infrastructure projects to Kelantan, the Malays would see their surroundings change and lives improved.
“When that happens, they will see the world and DAP in a different light. When the state has more facilities, people will believe me when I tell them that Pakatan Harapan is a progressive government and political coalition.
“After all, in this era of ‘shared prosperity’, it is time we rectified the lopsided developments in the country, which for many years are primarily concentrated in Selangor, Federal Territory, Penang, and Johor. Its time Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang also get their fair share,” he added. – Malaysiakini