KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — Previously punished for criticising the education system as a school teacher then, Mohd Nor Izzat Mohd Johari is now running in the Umno Youth chief race.
After starting a movement for teachers and speaking out against the now-suspended School-Based Assessment system, Izzat was transferred to a school about 80km from his home in Pahang in 2014 and later allegedly sacked from public service.
He then served as press secretary to then-Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, during which he learned about leadership and managing criticism.
“I am a rebel. I don’t like bad things happening in front of me and I can’t keep quiet,” he told Malay Mail in an interview yesterday.
He said he would do away with money politics at all levels.
Izzat, 33, said that should he be elected Umno Youth chief in today’s polls, he would also not permit close relatives and family members to hold office in Umno to prevent a conflict of interest.
“My vision firstly is to do with integrity. Integrity is the most important for any organisation.
“Integrity is the core of what I bring.
“That is firstly, I want to talk about corruption. This is the description. Reject money politics. I want to reject cronyism, I want to outrightly reject those things which can sully Umno’s name,” he said.
Izzat said he realised his vision was simply too huge, but pointed out that someone needed to step up the game in Umno that has long allowed such elements to fester.
“If people ask, how are you going to fight corruption? If I find out there are people in Umno who indulge in corruption, I will reveal their names straight to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) directly.
“Regardless if the person is the party president, deputy president, Women’s wing chief, or even anywhere in the party divisions. If I find out there are corrupt elements, I will call the MACC, I won’t wait for witnesses,” the former Muslim Consumers Association Malaysia (PPIM) activist said.
“No compromise. I will do it within 24 hours.”
Izzat said that Umno has deviated from the path of Islam by allowing such negative elements to thrive in the party, leading to its downfall.
“Not all, but majority,” he said, adding that he wants to bring back Umno members to the right path.
If he triumphed in today’s race, Izzat said he would like to make former deputy minister Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki his adviser.
“I feel he is more qualified to be an advisor to Umno Youth. I will be the first person who will support all out for him to be put as adviser to the Umno Youth chief,” he said.
Asyraf, a previous deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs, is one of the contenders for the Umno Youth chief post that will be contested by nine men in total.
On Barisan Nasional’s (BN) treatment of him when he was fighting for his fellow teachers and students, Izzat said he has moved on and did not wholly blame the party for what happened.
“It was the leaders, not the party, but that’s a long gone issue.
“I bring a new legacy, and am not tied to anyone. I bring a new formula for Umno’s success, and that’s what is important,” he added.
Izzat said that he would also like to engage Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s (PPBM) ‘celebrity’ MP, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, in a debate on the future of the Malay community in Malaysia under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
He said that such debates would show that Umno embraced democracy and was willing to agree to disagree on matters.
“It doesn’t have to be war of words always. We can showcase our brand in a more classy way too,” he added.
Umno membership for non-Malays? No
Izzat was against opening up Umno’s membership to non-Malays, an idea that Umno presidential contender Khairy Jamaluddin previously suggested as an option in revamping the Malay nationalist party’s structure.
Izzat said there were already too many divisions in Umno and that this gap needed to be fixed first.
He claimed that having “too big of a family” in the party would also create ill feelings and jealousy.
He added that he preferred to stick with Umno as he did not believe in the BN branding.
“For me personally, I have never acknowledged BN. I only wore Umno T-shirts.
“So now I want to say that I truly don’t acknowledge BN, but when I helm Umno and sit in BN, I will call. I will ‘open table’, have a table talk with component parties and discuss about how we can be in the future.”
From 13 component parties, BN now comprises only four parties based in the peninsula — Umno, MCA, MIC and Gerakan — representing the Malays, Chinese and Indians.
Umno has 54 parliament seats, MIC and MCA only have three between them, while Gerakan failed to win a single seat in the 14th general election.