Nazri to quit politics, may return to legal practice

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After spending more than four decades in politics, veteran Umno lawmaker Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz is finally ready to call it quits once his term as Padang Rengas MP expires as he has no intention to contest in the next general election.

The outspoken MP also said he is currently contemplating whether or not to return to legal practice and to start a new litigation firm with a few friends.

“I’m a barrister, so I’ll most probably go back to my first love – which is being a lawyer – and start all over again,” he told The Star on Saturday (Aug 28).

The 67-year-old Nazri also appeared upbeat and optimistic about starting afresh again in the legal practice.

“It’s okay, law is my passion. I never had the opportunity to go to court because I joined politics at a young age,” said Nazri.

“I love litigation but I’m a little rusty now,” he added, saying that he will have to take up some legal courses to sharpen himself.

Nazri started his political career as an Umno executive council member soon after his return from Britain in 1978 at the age of 24, where he read law at Lincoln’s Inn.

He later served as senator from 1991 till 1995 and contested his first Parliamentary seat in Chenderoh in 1995, which he won and was then made Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department from 1995 to 1999.

Nazri was never defeated in general elections since he debuted as an MP in Chenderoh in 1995. Chenderoh was later renamed Padang Rengas, which he later won in 2004, 2008, 2013 and 2018.

Nazri later served under various ministerial positions under the leadership of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first tenure as premier, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and also Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Nazri had also served as an Umno supreme council member for 28 years from 1990 until 2018, when Barisan Nasional first lost the general elections to Pakatan Harapan.

In 2018, Nazri was appointed Barisan secretary-general, but was removed from the position after making several remarks that did not bode well with MCA and MIC.

Among the highlights of his political career was his tenure as Tourism and Culture minister from 2013 to 2018, minister in the prime minister’s department (legal affairs) from 2004 to 2013 and entrepreneur development minister from 1999 to 2004.

Meanwhile, Nazri said until the 15th General Election is called, he will play his role as an effective backbencher MP, as he intends to carry out Parliamentary reforms mooted by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin previously sought bipartisan support from the Opposition, and he proposed enacting an anti-party hopping law, restricting the term of prime minister to two terms and equal allocations for all MPs regardless of political affiliation.

“These are the three things I hope to do. It’s good to reform Parliament and it will help with democracy. As a lawyer, I believe that every MP elected by Malaysians should be treated equally,” said Nazri.

Commenting further on his exit from politics, Nazri said it was nothing new, as he had thought about retiring from politics several times since 2013, but he was repeatedly re-nominated by the Umno leadership to contest in the previous general elections.

“So now, with the new generation coming up and taking over important positions such as prime minister, I think this is the right time for me to pass it on to the next generation,” said Nazri.

“When the PM is much younger than you, then it’s time for you to go,” he added, noting that Ismail Sabri is 61 years old.

“The good days will have to end someday, but it is okay. I have enjoyed my time in politics.

“I have given a lot of my time to public service, so why should there be any regret?”

When asked if he would recommend anyone to contest his seat in the next general election, Nazri said it is not for him to decide.

No stranger to controversy, he recently called for Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to resign as party boss.

He had also called for Muhyiddin to resign as prime minister earlier this year, before changing his mind and deciding to back him during the political turmoil last month when the Umno supreme council decided to retract its support for the then prime minister.

Prior to the 2018 elections, he belligerently challenged tycoon Robert Kuok to return to Malaysia and contest.

“Don’t be a ‘pondan’ (pansy). Don’t be an ‘ayam betina’ (hen) that hides behind the walls in Hong Kong,” he was quoted as saying.

On another occasion in 2007, he lost his temper in the Dewan Rakyat and repeatedly called DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang “stupid”.