Mujahid and Saifuddin share ‘independent’ views across political divide by Alyaa Alhadjri - The Ant Daily
MERDEKA FOCUS: As Malaysia celebrates her 57th year of independence from British rule this year, remnants of the past are still apparent in the country's administration, starting with the Westminster system of Parliament.
In Parliament, most major decisions are determined by the Chief Whip (from Barisan Nasional) and votes will be cast along partisan lines, effectively silencing any dissenting "independent" views.
The nature of politics in Malaysia is also such that it is often very difficult, if not i mpossible, for leaders from opposing factions to be seen to be in agreement with each other.
This, however, has not stopped Global Movement of Moderates CEO Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (a former Umno MP and deputy minister) and PAS’ Parit Buntar MP Mujahid Yusof Rawa from forming a friendship that led to their collaboration under various cross-partisan platforms.
In an interview with theantdaily, Saifuddin said he first met Mujahid in 2008 when both of them were first-term Parliamentarians.
"We never knew each other until we met in Parliament ... When we first met we just said 'salam, apa khabar' and that's it, until I published my book (in January 2009) on new politics," he recalled, adding that his book was titled "New Politics: Maturing Democracy in Malaysia".
"He (Mujahid) read my book, he commented on it (and) then (in May 2009) he published his own book, also about new politics titled 'The New Face of Malaysian Politics'," said Saifuddin.
Saifuddin noted that both of them had been writing about new politics since even before they became MPs, through his column in Berita Harian and Mujahid on his blog, but only realising their mutual interests after having read each other's book.
"I rearranged my column to become a book and he rearranged his blog posts to become a book," he added.
Despite being a deputy minister at the time, Saifuddin is known to speak against his own party's line, a trait which gained him popularity among middle-ground Malaysians but cost him his political career -- having lost his Temerloh seat during the 13th general election and also his position in Umno's Supreme Council.
"He (Mujahid) was not quoted so much at that time in the mainstream media but sometimes I saw (his statements) on online media and I thought, 'Eh! We seem to be talking about the same things'," said Saifuddin, who cited as an example, Mujahid's support for his proposal to amend Section 15 of the University and University Colleges Act 1971.
While Saifuddin is now no longer in Parliament, he said he continues to engage with Mujahid on Twitter (among other platforms): "Even before GE13 we were already tweeting. He retweeted (RT) me, I retweeted him, he favourited my tweets."
It was also through Twitter that the duo crossed path with Anas Zubedy (businessman, author and founder of 'Zubedy') who proposed that they co-author a book on new politics.