After the fanfare had subsided a little and the candidates had been announced on Nomination Day (Feb 24), Danny Lim spoke to Badrul Hisham Shaharin, 30, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat contestant for the Rembau parliamentary seat in Negeri Sembilan. He is taking on Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin. In this exclusive interview, Badrul, also known as ‘Chegubard‘, talked about his role in Parliament if he were to be elected wakil rakyat and the socio-economic and political condition in Malaysia today.
What issues will you push for in Parliament, if you win this election?
Firstly, the local issues in Rembau will be my focus. Secondly, I will push forward issues that strengthen democracy. I will play my role in Parliament to shape a country that is more transparent and economically just, whether as part of a coalition that forms the government, or as an opposition pressure group.
Certainly when we talk about economic justice, it pertains directly to Rembau here … I have many friends who are eager to help in my campaign, but they have no idea where Rembau is, because Rembau is an isolated place which doesn’t enjoy a comparable level of development as Kuala Lumpur does.
The problem in Malaysia isn’t the problem of race, but the problem of unfair economic distribution, and unfair development. Some areas are overly developed whilst other areas remain extremely neglected.
Khairy can say all he wants, but all this while, he has been the chief of Umno Youth in Rembau and the deputy chief of Umno Youth in Malaysia, as well as the most powerful young man behind much of government decision-making. Yet we see that most government actions today worsen the nation’s racial sentiments.
Khairy has said that while “Umno needs to empathise more with non-Muslims who feel threatened today by what they perceive as encroaching Islamism, …the Chinese community has to empathise also with the Malay community who still has a hang-up about economic achievement, who still needs assistance, who still cherishes the NEP (New Economic Policy).” What is your opinion on this?
On the question of economic distribution and all that, we understand the desire to retain the spirit of the NEP, but the problem is that the NEP is no longer relevant. The NEP has been used by Umno to control the economy and only a handful of [Malays] have enjoyed its benefits, not all Malays. When he talks about the Malay community, what type of Malay is he talking about? What Khairy says has to be related with what the government has done.
Where do you lean towards in your economic beliefs?
I believe in the free market, where everyone can compete given an equal playing field. But this also goes back to the question of fairness in the economy. We also have to pay attention to those who are unable to compete, regardless of race and religion.
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