KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 — Former minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim will no longer publicly express his views and will retire from politics, following the backlash over a remark claiming billionaires were running the government.
In a post published on the Free Malaysia Today news portal, he said even his family members expressed concern over his controversial “opinions about powerful people in the country.”
The former Kota Baru MP made an obscure comment this week that billionaires were running the country, which some took as a veiled attack on Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Dr Mahathir responded by telling Zaid to show where he kept his billions, prompting the latter to clarify yesterday that he was referring to Tun Daim Zainuddin and his friends rather than the prime minister.
“I now fully retract my statement about Tun Daim’s involvement with the Pakatan Harapan government and the reference to his role in making important decisions. I regret my unfair and unjustified remarks and apologise to both Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Daim Zainuddin for the anguish my writing has caused them both.
“In all my years of writing, I have taken great pains to ensure the accuracy of the information I received, but this one is obviously faulty and has crossed the line of responsible writing. I much regret it,” he wrote today.
He added that he will also stop being a member of any political party and wrote off his entire political career as wasted years.
He also said he will return to work in order to pay off the debts he amassed over the years.
“I am just a simple man who believes in truth and justice, but I don’t have the means to fight anymore,” he said in parting.
In 2008 when he was still in Umno, Zaid was briefly de facto law minister in the Abdullah administration and gained prominence when he resigned in protest of the government’s decision to detain MP Teresa Kok and a journalist under the Internal Security Act.
He then joined PKR in 2009 and had been expected to rise through its ranks but was unable to navigate the savagery of the party’s internal politics. He resigned a year later.
Zaid went on to rebrand the Malaysian Human’s Justice Front (AKIM) to the People’s Welfare Party (KITA) in 2010, but quickly became embroiled in more infighting and quit the party he founded after just two years.
He officially joined DAP last year but did not make any headway in the party.