Sun, 17 Mar 2013 17:45:00 GMT | By Aizyl Azlee, CLIVE

Nobody Likes the Liberal Guy: Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah

CLIVE Magazine chats to Dato' Saifuddin on his thoughts on the General Election (GE)13.

Credit to Fadzmel Fadzil

Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah has never been one to hold back on his opinions despite often receiving flak from fellow UMNO members. He found the time from his busy schedule to meet up with CLIVE over some coffee to share his thoughts on the coming 13th General Elections (GE13), and beyond.

What advantage do you think either parties have over the other?
I think for Barisan Nasional, our advantage is our track record. Especially governing at the federal level since Independence. As for Pakatan Rakyat, they seem to be more attractive to the young voters so many people are of the opinion that they have the advantage in that area. So it’s very competitive, perhaps the most competitive GE ever, and this is really a golden opportunity for Malaysians to decide on the future of the nation. I see GE13, not as a platform to decide who is going to form the next government, because I am confident in all humility, I am confident that BN will carry the vote and will return as the government on the federal level. But I am looking beyond GE13 as a platform to take off towards a new conversation. We need to move on. We’ve had too much politics in the past year. We need to do some soul searching. We need to sit down and start a new conversation for the better of the country.

How would you suggest we do that?
The conversation should start firstly with all stakeholders coming forward to offer a “real” new manifesto for the country. Today both Barisan and Pakatan will come up with their own manifestos, but no matter how we do it, everybody will know that it is made to win elections. There’s no two ways about it, so let’s be truthful about it. What the rakyat really wants is a real manifesto, and it will show in how the rakyat elects their people into their legislative houses. But that isn’t going to be sufficient, we will need to sit down and have a real conversation.

[Laughs] Politicians aren’t usually open enough to admit something like that.
I know that the rakyat know it themselves. So there’s no need to sugar coat it. The real manifesto at the end of the day is what is put into the ballot box. People will either vote in hope or to protest, but these are symbols of the “real” manifesto. Immediately after the GE, we really need to sit down with the rakyat and discuss the issues. We cannot have a winner-take-all mentality. What I mean by that is we cannot ignore a good point in an opposing party’s manifesto simply because they are from a different party.

If a big number of Pakatan MPs are voted into parliament like what we have now, are we going to continue to refuse opinions from the other side of the house because they are from a different party? I don’t think we can go on having a monopoly of Parliament.

You must get a lot of criticisms from your colleagues.
Yes I’m used to the flak I receive from within my party. They accuse me of many things, but in my mind it’s really simple. There are limits to party politics. In certain instances you have to be bi-partisan, where you can engage and consult, and collaborate in certain areas. Say for instance, education.

One of the big issues now is free education. Many of the discussions from both sides of the house have been slanted politically. This is a topic that’s worthy of discussion. Even our side had announced that there will be a review of the school system. Among them is how to spend more prudently in managing our public universities. My position on free higher education is a very simple question; why are the top universities in the world private universities? So if I see that the top universities in the world are public universities, then perhaps I will start discussing free higher education. But I am all for spending more prudently for public universities.

How would you gauge the mindset of the younger voters?
Young voters, professionals, those with higher education, entrepreneurs, and civil society activists form a group, that I term the middle ground, make up 30% of the electorate. They are by definition non-partisan, who will vote using their conscience. These are the people who will be looking at the issues, manifestos, and comparing candidates. The political party will be the last factor to influence their decision. They are not card carrying party members. They don’t give a damn about who their parents will be voting for. If you ask me, the party that can get the support of this 30% will win the elections.

The results of the 2008 elections was a result of the 30% voting in protest. This time, a big number of the 30% won’t vote in protest. They will vote for real hope. Of course there will still be people continuing the ‘anything but UMNO’ style voting, but I’m very happy to see that there are more constructive criticism now. It’s turning into a real discourse now, a real conversation.

To read the FULL INTERVIEW, click to CLIVE Magazine

Mar 17, 2013 6:50PM

datuk, i salute you in speaking your mind.

i hope your fellow members are hearing this.


just keep on track and you will go further,

you sounded like a leader of the future that malaysia are looking forward.


speak up datuk.

Mar 17, 2013 7:55PM
Datuk, You are one BN man that I would cast my vote for if you stand in my constituency.
To be able to recognise the merits of an opposing view to your party's stand is democracy and liberal thinking rather than being shackle to your party's toe-the-line order. You are definitely one generation ahead of the rest (in BN).
Mar 17, 2013 6:56PM
well said, matured thinking or at least writing
Mar 17, 2013 8:46PM

Looks good in writing…

All that is left to do is “WALK THE TALK”


Sorry to say, that in the past that has never happened. The people are often cheated and personal interest becomes the agenda.

So much of corruption and money swindling, some amounting beyond what they can ever spend in 10 generations…

Sere greed and selfishness.


With all due respect Dato'...

How are the RAKYAT to recognize that this time it will be different?

That BN is sincerely going to keep their manifesto for the people?

Mar 17, 2013 10:05PM
if u are a citizen not align to any party, many flaws in governing can be detected
Mar 18, 2013 6:28AM
sweet to hear, hard to swallow....if BN is doing like what you said as early as they got elected in last term, they won't stand on the stage right now and being condemn by majority people of malaysia right now....i respect all your statement above, but do BN really can bring us to the next level? I dare said yea, i will 100% support BN if they can do so. But all those thing BN done already speak for themselves, action speak louder than word, and yea, they do...i have been disappointed again and again by BN and i don't even seen any reason i can give them any chance any more...enough is enough...sweet talk over, let get back to the long as BN govern this country, there won't be next level, ONLY GAME OVER!
Mar 18, 2013 2:47PM
Pay for the crimes first, then we move on. I want to see the corrupted officials hanged, their bank account freezed, and money returned to building the country.

Mar 26, 2013 11:01PM
Intelligent, rational thinking, bi-partisan and true statesmanship - a rare occurrence on both sides of the political divide (but can be found more on PR nowadays).  Malaysia can be better if candidates are chosen with these characteristics in mind, besides full integrity. But as I said, it's a rare occurrence
Apr 1, 2013 8:30PM

No pilitician is perfect...but not as dirty as BN.

Not only the "young" is supporting for I am consider old enough looking forward for chnage.

A real "rakyat" representative do not drive "5 star"...and own a 7 star Bungalo before and after "elected".

A real representative set the "goal" for the nation and peoples.

Free medicaltion is possible for we are resources driven. Provided we do not give away to "invited" citizen.


Mar 18, 2013 5:05AM
Really wondering whether this guy is just another actor memorizing his lines or whether he actually believes what he's saying
Mar 18, 2013 10:11AM
love will bring MALAYSIA to a better nation,think good,say good n do good...
Mar 18, 2013 1:01AM
So people let this be a lesson. Not all UMNO politicians are bad and not all also are angels. So, when the need to criticize is presented please make sure that the flaks falls on the right person and not on the whole...understand. Similarly as in the case between Lim Kit Siang and Lee Lam Thye. Both have black coloured hair but that does not necessarily mean that they are cut from the same cloth.
Mar 29, 2013 6:45PM
Have any heard of the name 'a hanging Parliament'? Vote Parliament to one party and vote the state to another party. 'Check and Balance'.
Mar 18, 2013 4:26AM
See how professional BN politicians are. Unlike the PR, Tian Chua who polticising everything until the death of our fellow hereos. 

Looking forward to have him, Hj Hadi, Anwar Ibrahim take parts as actor in the sandiwara UMNO in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
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