Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vote For The Person, Not The Party - An Interview with Anas Zubedy by BFM

For some, politics is very serious business, it invokes heated passion, while others remain coolly indifferent. Whatever the stance, everyone has the responsibility and right to vote.

Deciding who to vote for has the power to change the future of our country. Today, we are going to explore the concept of voting for the person, not the party.

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This article has been featured in BFM website

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Light (and silly) side of politics by Shahanaaz Habib

Self-proclaimed centrist Anas Zubedy, who has just published a book titled Bodoh Politik 101: Easy Guides on How (Not) to Choose a Malaysian Leader, insists he takes no sides in politics.
BODOH Politik is when you think those who do not support you are disloyal to the country or have been bought over by the other side.

Bodoh Politik is when you spend public money like it's your own.

Bodoh Politik is complaining that certain media is biased to the other side but you think it is okay when other media is biased to your side.

Bodoh Politik is when you say Malaysian students have no right to get involved in what is happening in their own country.

Bodoh Politik is when you ask and advise others to vote FOR or AGAINST someone simply because he or she is from BN (Barisan Nasional) or PR (Pakatan Rakyat).

These are some of the amusing quotes found in a little book by Anas Zubedy called #Bodoh Politik 101: Easy Guides on How (Not) to Choose a Malaysian Leader.

Cute? Funny? Does any of these hit a mark?

The quotes are actually some of his tweets from late last year and Anas thought it would be a good laugh to compile them into an easy-to-read book.

And he has dedicated it to so-called “Clever Malaysians”. 

“We need to cheer up a little because in our zest to make Malaysia a better place, Malaysians are getting angry with each other to the extent of it sometimes getting ridiculous on both sides of the political divide,” Anas says.

“We must remember at the end of the day that while we might oppose each other's ideas, we are not enemies.”

He believes there is a bunch of Malaysians who are active on the Internet who have become “ugly Malaysians” and are using nasty words on Facebook, twitter, blogs and the web sphere and who are also going around screaming and shouting to disrupt the other party's ceramah.
It bothers him that political leaders on both sides are not doing anything against it.

“They should tell their supporters to not do it because it's not helping them or the country,” he says.

His book of tweets, he adds, is in jest and “yet deep”.

Bodoh Politik, he explains, means Silly (not Stupid) Politics.

Anas insists he is a centrist who does not support any side of the political divide. His tweets do take pot shots at both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

Bodoh Politik is when you make chauvinistic jokes about women politicians.

Bodoh Politik is when you keep predicting the date of the next general election as though it is your day job.

Anyone following politics in the country, including parliament sessions, is able to tell for sure the first is directed at Barisan (thanks to some of their MPs sexist remarks) and the second at Pakatan.

Then there are a few quotes that are very personality-specific.

Bodoh Politik is when you run for politics and then go and bite the ears of a policeman. It is a no-brainer that this tweet was aimed at PKR's Tian Chua, who bit the ear of a policeman in 2007 after the latter threw a punch at him.

The following year, Tian Chua was voted into parliament as Batu MP.
For the biting incident, Tian Chua was charged and fined RM2,000 but the policeman who punched him was never charged.

Describing him as “nonsensical” and “gila” (mad), Anas makes no secret what he thinks of Tian Chua.

“Why so silly? How can you be a political leader and go and bite someone's ear? There must be some kind of wrong make-up there (in the head) for him to do that.

“Also, during the Bersih 2.0 protest, Tian Chua got a bunch of followers to rush towards the policemen. For what? These kinds of things make Bersih look bad.

“He's gila. But the good news is he's calming down and maturing.”

About a year ago, Anas (who says he doesn't belong to any political party) called for the resignation of the DAP's respected leader Lim Kit Siang, which understandably got party members really angry.

They called Anas an Umno tool and attacked him ferociously in cyberspace.
One of his tweets in the book pretty much sums up what he thinks about the matter: Bodoh Politik is demanding old-timers from the other side resign from politics but getting emotional when the same is asked from your side.

Anas bristles when asked about him being seen as an Umno tool.

Stressing that he has always been a centrist, he points out that before 1998, he was seen as being anti-establishment and hence a leftist.

And it was only after the 2008 elections, “when the left has gone so far left”, that he who has remained in the centre now appears like a rightist.

“I've never changed my position for the past 20 to 25 years. When I say be fair to both sides', people say cannot'. To the opposition, anyone who is not with them has been bought over or is with Barisan.

“Barisan used to be like that too. If you are in the centre, they used to call you a traitor, but not any more.

“I take offence when people say I am an Umno tool. I refuse to take money for my business from cigarette, beer and gambling companies, so do you think someone like that will take money from Barisan or the Opposition?

“I will sue the next person who says I have been paid by Barisan,” he says.

People should vote for the candidate rather than the party, Anas stresses.

“We have good people in both Barisan and Pakatan but the problem is the good people might not be in the forefront so we need to support them so that they can come up,” he says, adding that party members shouldn't be too extreme to support their leader when he makes a mistake.
Some of the politicians Anas likes on the Pakatan Rakyat side are Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR-Lembah Pantai), Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (PKR-Seri Setia state seat) and Mujahid Yusof Rawa (PAS-Parit Buntar).

On the Barisan side, he has high regard for Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (Jeli), Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (Temerloh), Khairy Jamaluddin (Rembau), Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (Gua Musang) and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (PM).

Anas also takes to task race-based and religious-based political parties, saying that PKR probably has the best multi-racial party at this point in time.

He adds that macho political structures like having the main wing, a Wanita, Youth and Puteri wings is “so old school”.

To have more good leaders, he says, you have to allow people to rise and not segregate them into male and female wings.

“Women make up 50% of the talent pool. In the business world, we would be dead meat without the women.

“But in Umno, it's the Wanita and Puteri who are doing the work but when it's time to make the speech, it's the men who go up in front (to take the credit).

“As for the Puteri, why call them Puteri in the first place? Princess? Come on, are we living 400 years ago?”

Anas believes the 2008 general election changed the political landscape for the better because “the government cannot take the people for granted any more” although, at times, he thinks “the Umno fellows haven't woken up yet”.

Another thing Anas finds hard to stomach is when the opposition parties start compromising on principles in their desire to get to Putrajaya.

“My favourite politician is Karpal Singh who has always been anti-frogging (against elected representatives jumping parties) but now he is silent on it because his own party wants to go to Putrajaya.

“The opposition has betrayed us because they are not fighting against frogging any more.”
Pointing to Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as being responsible for the opposition parties' compromising on their principles, he says: “We do not have a checking mechanism any more so we need a third group of people who are neither Barisan nor Pakatan who are willing to voice out whichever side is wrong. Without that, we lose our conscience.”

On Bersih, Anas says it is good to clean up the electoral roll but saying that there is massive fraud and cheating in the elections is too much.

Bersih 3.0 should have held their rally in the streets of Putrajaya instead of Kuala Lumpur, he feels, and he is sorry for “poor Ambiga” (Bersih 3.0 co-chairman) because he thinks she got “played out” for working with the opposition parties.

Anas also has a number of tweets on the NEP.

He is all for affirmative action and says it should be celebrated for helping millions out of poverty.
But he believes it was “designed wrongly” because it was a race-based affirmative action, which meant huge chunks of very poor Indians in the estates were missed out.

“I don't believe in equality. I believe the poor must be helped. I think now we need a special Indian-based NEP to help the Indian poor in areas like housing, schooling to jobs.”
One bad thing about the NEP, he says, is that it has created a nation of blamers.

The Chinese who don't do well or are not rich blame it on the NEP, while the Malays lack self confidence as they think they cannot be successful and cannot survive without the NEP, he elaborates.

Anas is also known for taking full-page advertisements in newspapers to celebrate festivals. Even this has critics accusing him of being publicity-hungry.
In his defence, he says there's nothing wrong with publicity: Zubedy is the brand of his company and that brand is unity.

“We have been advertising for almost every festival not only the major ones but even for Vaisakhi and Vesak Day for so many years. I was also advertising Sept 16 Malaysia Day since 2001.
“We are a business organisation and we have a marketing motive. The world will be a very boring place if nobody wanted publicity.

“The only problem is when people get publicity to do wrong things. I am trying to get publicity to win people's hearts to unite.

“I don't think there's anything wrong with that,” says Anas, who points out that accusations of him being publicity-crazy only started after he asked Kit Siang to step down.

On the back cover of #Bodoh Politik, Anas has put a popular Malay idiom in bold. “Siapa yang makan cili, dia yang terasa pedasnya (Whoever eats chilli, he will feel the spiciness which means whoever has done something wrong, he will feel the guilt).”

For sure, some will feel the sting with this book.

This article has been publilsh and featured in THE STAR newspaper and website