I might know what you did on your last lunch date!
By Zan Azlee
Three people who have always been the symbol of youth, change and reform in Malaysian politics in the past five to 10 years or so have been subject to a lot of attention recently. Yes. I am referring to the golden triage that is Nurul Izzah Anwar, Khairy Jamaluddin and Rafizi Ramli.
Recently, they have been seen having lunch twice now. Many would say that this is just some sensational news that can be brushed off because we need a little bit of gossip drama in politics. It’s just something juicy to talk about. But maybe there is something more there.
We all know how Nurul started. While still a student, her father, then deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim was sacked and arrested. By having to fight for her father, she was thrown into politics and eventually became a powerhouse in the opposition.
Khairy was the son-in-law of the country’s fifth prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. He still is Abdullah’s son-in-law, but the old man is no longer the prime minister. Khairy rose quite fast, of which many people believe is due to him marrying up!
Rafizi came to the fore as a whistle-blower. He was never afraid of digging up dirt on his political rivals who were mainly in the government at the time. So much so that he himself have been charged with exposing confidential information.
The one that actually sticks out among the three is Khairy because he is from Umno and was in the previous government. Nurul and Rafizi are from PKR, which is only now part of the new coalition government ever since the general election last May.
Now, since the May election, it can be said that things have gone a little bit down south for these three individuals. Khairy is no longer a minister and he lost his bid in trying to be the president of Umno in the last party elections.
Rafizi had a guilty verdict in a case that involved him having confidential information and could not defend his parliamentary seat. He also lost in the party elections when he ran for the deputy president post.
Nurul’s situation would be the most unfortunate. She is a senior leader in her party (vice-president, nonetheless) and is a three-term member of parliament. When her coalition won the government, many expected her to be on the cabinet.
However, due to having to avoid accusations of nepotism, she was not appointed nor given any other post in the government (her mother Dr Wan Azizah Ismail is the Deputy Prime Minister while her father, apparently, is “prime minister-in-waiting”).
Basically, these three have been in political oblivion since last May. I can imagine that this is frustrating seeing that they have always been at the forefront of trying to change. Nurul and Rafizi worked hard to oust a corrupt and racist government.
Khairy tried to change it from within since he was in that corrupt and racist government. Okay, fine! It’s hard to paint Khairy as not being an opportunist. But we have to face the fact that he was a big change in Umno.
It would seem that now, the voice of change has been suppressed. Think about it. We have a prime minister who used to be the prime minister 15 years ago under that the previous corrupt and racist government.
The supposed “prime minister-in-waiting” is the former deputy prime minister who served under the current (er, former) prime minister. There is also the undignified issue of MPs from the previous corrupt and racist government jumping ship and being accepted into the new coalition government.
What has happened to that change that we were hoping for? It’s like we changed but not really. Khairy tried to topple the leaders in his own party and is still very vocal about it. Rafizi tried to challenge his own party leadership. Nurul has resigned from all her party posts.
So the news of these three individuals coming together and having lunch is very interesting indeed. I don’t know what it is but I’m sure it means more than just a hike in egg prices or photo filters. Let’s just wait and see what developments ensue.
[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]
Get Zan Azlee’s best-selling book ‘Liberal, Malay and Malaysian‘ today!
Buy more Fat Bidin books, films and merchandise at The Fat Bidin Store!