SERI KEMBANGAN, March 29 ― Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said he exited Umno in 2012 to form his own party, Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia (Ikatan), because of the prevalence of money politics in the Malay ruling party.
The former information and tourism minister and ex-Umno veteran alleged that corruption was common in Umno, but also stressed that the party’s president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should not be held solely responsible as this existed long before his term.
“Umno has too many illnesses and they need to heal,” Abdul Kadir told Malay Mail Online in a recent interview at his office here.
“No need to talk about Najib only as this is a disease that’s affecting all the way, right through the system of government,” added the former Umno supreme council member.
Abdul Kadir said he had always wanted to take a backseat after retiring as a minister, but changed his mind when he saw that money politics was creating more problems within the party and the administration.
“I was against money politics all along, vehemently against money politics, and that is becoming very, very serious in Umno.
“And I know money politics will destroy the government, will destroy the party, will destroy the country also. So I was making statements as the party elder who’s retired, because I thought I had every right to make noise about money politics, but they didn’t like it, you know,” he said.
Abdul Kadir said he was challenged to leave Umno and after much pressure, he quit the party and focused on his businesses to settle debt owing to his expenses on Umno.
He also stressed that it was unfair to heap blame on Najib for the alleged corruption in Umno and said the root cause was the party’s long grip on power for over half a century.
“You know, in any society, they said if there is a government that is more than 30 years old continuously in power, the bad habits start creeping in ― corruption, arrogance, cronyism,” he said.
“Now of course, these governing parties have quite a lot of bad habits and this didn’t only start under Najib. It started long before that, but we see it now at its worst form,” he added.
Malaysia has been featuring in global headlines over the controversy surrounding state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and a RM2.6 billion transfer into Najib’s personal accounts. Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali has cleared the prime minister of any wrongdoing in the transfer that he said was a donation from the Saudi royal family.
Ikatan formed to realise founding fathers’ visions
Abdul Kadir said he formed Ikatan in June 2012 to impart the ideologies of Malaysia’s founding fathers ― Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj, Datuk Onn Jaafar and Tun Hussein Onn ― who had stressed on unity.
“I was very sad, but I had to leave (Umno). However, I cannot leave the struggles of the Alliance Party, BN (Barisan Nasional) and my love for Umno,” he said.
“It is also to show how Umno would look like had it taken the advice of Datuk Onn and opened up its membership to a multiracial crowd,” Abdul Kadir added.
Abdul Kadir said that his goal through Ikatan was to correct the wrongs of current leaders.
“I feel that there is a backward trend (on integrity matters) and it gives me tremendous happiness to again spend money and time to do things that doesn’t benefit me personally,” he said.
Abdul Kadir also said that he does not need any funding for Ikatan as he is contented with what he has to campaign with.
“I was in Umno supreme council for 26 years… won lots and lots of elections, but I never used money. It can be done without money,” he claimed.
No plans to contest in elections
For Abdul Kadir, just promoting Ikatan’s agenda on unity is sufficient as he has no designs on any post of power in the administration, having already served his time as a member.
“I do not have any ambition to be a prime minister. I’m not even aspiring to contest in the election at this point. I’m not even thinking of contesting in the elections because I have been there,” he said.
Abdul Kadir also acknowledged that Ikatan and PAS still have many issues to iron out although the parties have formed an alliance.
The politician is unsure how long this will take but said both sides will address them over time.
During the announcement of the PAS-Ikatan pact, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang reportedly said the Islamist opposition party has yet to discuss hudud in detail with Ikatan.
Abdul Kadir also told Malay Mail Online that he supports the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, both of which PAS is opposed to.
“For example, I support the government on TPPA as I spent enough time in the government to know why this is necessary.
“Why GST is necessary? Too many people are evading tax and this is the only way to go against that. That’s why the whole world over, all the developed countries are implementing GST. I support them, but PAS doesn’t support,” he said.
Abdul Kadir also said he supports the government’s decision to do away with petroleum subsidies, pointing out that the rich were benefitting from such subsidies.
“So, I have my reasons, but I’m sure once we engage with PAS, probably they might change their stance. I don’t know,” he added.
Abdul Kadir said although there are striking differences in both Ikatan’s and PAS’s beliefs, the two parties still have a lot in common, especially their stand against corruption and desire for more transparent governance.
“We have difference of opinion on a lot of things, but why can’t we move on, on the thousands and thousands of things which we have the same view and same mind on?” he questioned.