Who do you think should be the 7th Malaysian Prime Minister?

Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah. The thing is, this is a good chance for us to have a female prime minister. She is the president of PKR. It’s very peculiar, we engage in the wider discourse about democracy, and we see more progressive Malaysians supporting Hillary Clinton because she is a woman and so on, and yet back home, where we have the chance to have the first woman Prime Minister, be it on an interim basis or not, there seems to be no serious discourse about it.

This can change the course of history, it will be an unprecedented thing in Malaysia, it will be historical thing in Malaysia, for a modern Muslim country like us, and it is not even a unique thing among Muslim democratic countries, e.g. Bangladesh.

She can represent new politics. Let’s put this into perspective, she started in 1998, her husband was sent into jail and at that time, it was violent, she survived that, she contested in the 1999 election. In 2004, she was the only MP for her party and she held the fort. She was the glue that was holding everything together. After 2008, she took a step back to give the opportunity to her husband. That’s a trait that is not common among leaders and politicians, especially in Malaysia- to be able to pass the baton to someone else. In 2015, when Anwar was imprisoned for the second time, she took back the baton. She is battle hardened, if you ask me. She experienced the 1999 and 2004 election without the presence of her husband. I’m not giving these answers because I work with her, but rather, I work for her because of these reasons.

She is not interested in power, she is interested in change for the betterment of the country, when there is a better person to lead, she is willing to give way. That is, to me, a trait of a good leader, not being a power hungry person. Malaysians have always been saying they want a certain type of politician, and there is one right in front of our eyes and yet no one seems to acknowledge and appreciate it. Its like the quote, she’s the ‘hero we need but not the one we deserve’, so instead we get leaders like Jamal, I guess that’s what we deserve.

I also think it would be more interesting and fun if she becomes our 7th PM.

What change do you want to see in Malaysia?

A change in attitude. We have all the necessary requirements to become a developed nation, in a broad sense, not just in terms of infrastructure, we have the constitution and the institutions and so on, but we lost our way. Sometimes its not just about change and progress, but sometimes its also about going back to our own mentality as well. We just need to follow the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, Perisytiharaan Malaysia.

How is Malaysia flawed?

It’s a beautiful country with a corrupt government. The reason is that people are fearful, there is no courage to take things into their own hands, you need confidence and courage to do that. Speaking like this is considered bravery to a lot of people, which is a problem. When I was 24, I didn’t have the courage and confidence to speak like how I am right now. But as time progresses, the books you read, the people you meet, with the discussions you participate, the forums you attend, you become more confident and you are not afraid anymore. You question to the extent of what can they do? They might be able to put you in prison, but can they put 1 million Malaysians in prison? Can they put 2 million Malaysians in prison? Do we have a budget for that?

Is there religious radicalism among our youth?

I don’t think so. To be frank, I don’t see a problem with having radical thoughts, but there must be dialogue. There is a major difference being a radical and being a militant. You can also have a pro-democracy militant group, but are they radical? We might not think so because we are also pro-democracy, but on the other side of the coin, there are people who are radically conservative as well. So I don’t see anything wrong with being radical in that sense. If you are young then you should be radical.

What should be Malaysia’s policy priority?

Education and redistribution of wealth. We need a more comprehensive policy on the eradication of poverty. The focus should be amending the policies in these areas. We need better facilities and job opportunities throughout the country and not just in Klang Valley. People have to leave their homes to look for better job opportunities.

But at the end of the day, it boils down to our policy makers. If we have incompetent people on the job, the problem starts from there. So then it comes back to our right to vote, the weapon of the masses. We can change the government, anyone can topple the government just using their ballot, by just drawing an X on a piece of paper- think of how magical and sacred is that power? And yet, people do not appreciate or acknowledge it. Having this power to vote is very important, but if we don’t take it seriously now, we will suffer the consequences later

Abdul Hadi, 34, Media Officer for Leader of Opposition