Rocky’s My Paper article on Mukhriz

Former Malay Mail Executive Editor, National Press Club President and now pro-tem President of All Blogs Ahirudin “Rocky” Attan was in Titigajah, Alor Setar, Kedah yesterday to interview BN’s candidate for P005 Jerlun Dato’ Mukhriz Mahathir yesterday.

This is what appeared in the front page of the Singapore My Paper this morning:

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This is the interview Rocky had with Mukhriz:

Q.Hi Mukhriz, you almost did not get in as a candidate for the GE. What actually happened?

A I don’t know whether that was the case. I was never sure i would get in – for Federal or State seat – at any time. There was only talk that I would be fielded as a candidate but there was no confirmation until the end.

Q. Is Jerlun a safe seat?

A. No, I don’t think I can say it is safe seat. Back in 2004, there were 44,148 voters and the BN candidate won by a 2,142-vote majority (there were 718 spoilt votes). That was quite a close call. And this was when we (the BN) won big arond the country.
This time around, the challenge is keener.

Q. What are the voters like here? What are the bread and butter issues? Have they warmed up to you?

A. The voters are very rural. They are what you call grassroot voters. Due to that, the issues in this constituency are rural-based issues. Like most everyone else, they are seeking economic development to improve their livelihood.
I’ve been here only for a short while but I feel that they have warmed up to me. I have been meeting a lot of people.

Q. You didn’t expect your dad to turn up and campaign for you. Aren’t you glad he’s on your side?

A. Haha. It was nice surprise to have him here. I won’t say that he was campaigning for me but his mere presence has left some impact on the voters here. Especially in areas where he was once the Member of Parliament. As you know, Kodiang was part of Kubang Pasu once.

Q. Dr M had said his children wouldn’t be allowed to run in any election as long as he’s PM. Do you think you could have made MP earlier if your dad wasn’t so righteous? Do you hold a grudge against him for that?

A. I understand totally where he was coming from. My father holds strongly to principles. He did not want any of us to put him in a position of conflict. He didn’t want any of us to be in the way of decisions he has to make. I understand totally.
However, I was able to be close to the political machinery and to be able to play a direct part in it, at least. That experience is valuable for me now.
Having said that, I still feel somewhat unprepared to face the general election.

Q. How was it like, growing up with Dr M as your father?

A. It cuts both ways. On one hand, people assumed you were privileged lot and that it was all fun. But at same time people had very high expectations. For example, due to his style of leadership, where he expects transparency and professionalism from among the civil service, people sometimes go overboard in expecting us to adhere to everything.
So something which is simple for someone else could become very complicated for us.

Q. Are you anything like your father?

A. I aspire to be, at least. i know what he has done is not easy. I aspire to be like him, to have the strength and determination to do the right thing.
If you ask me if I’m anything like him physically, no .. not at the top, especially.

Q. Do you consult him on your campaign strategies?

A. Not at all.

Q. If you get voted into Parliament, what will you be fighting for?

A. First of all, we really need to look at where Malaysia stands in this era of globalisation where things are not getting any easier and competition gets stiffer. We need to understand the kind of challenges facing us as a nation, which are not the same as the challenges we used to handle before.

Today we have new sets of problems which require new sets of answers, and then we would need to tie them up to the kind of education we need, which direction the economy is going, how we plan to use our limited resources to be competitive, and find our niche. These are easy questions. I don’t presume to have the answers but knowing the problems would be a start.

On the international front, as Peace Malaysia Coordinator, I am proud to say that we’re respected for being vocal despite being a small country. It’s heartening to see that our voice is heard. Those of us who travel a lot would know this. Although we must focus on our own country, we need to keep diplomatic relations with other countries.
Far too many things that are not right are happening in the world and not enough people are speaking up. Malaysia needs to continue being the voice of reason, the voice of the South.

Q. How do you plan to serve the people of Jerlun? How will you develop this place?

A. I am going to sit down and discuss this with the state’s representatives after the General Election to determine what sort of long-term plans we should have for Jerlun.
From the quick assesment I’ve been able to make, I find that Jerlun is a very agriculatre based consitutency. There is, therefore, a lot of potential for downstream agro industry.
Other than that, there is much potential for tourism. Jerlun is rich with rivers and filled with padi fields.

Q. Many people I talk to think you will go far – very far – in Malaysian politics. As (Datuk Seri) Najib’s running mate one day, perhaps. Where do you see yourself going?

A. At this moment, I am prepared to serve as an MP. That’s the role i want to play for now — as MP for Jerlun.

Ask me the question several more years down the road. After I’ve had the experience of serving the people.

Earlier, former Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar and UMNO Vice President Tan Sri Isa Samad made a surprise call on Mukhriz’s campaign trail when he showed up at Kampung Manggol Bonggor in DUN Kota Siputeh.

Tomorrow, Mukhriz will be in Siputeh and will be accompanied by former Kedah Menteri Besar Tan Sri Sanusi Junid. Former Prime Minister and UMNO President Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad will arrive at Sultan Abdul Halim Airport in the evening and will accompany Mukhriz and Jerlun UMNO Head Dato’ Abdul Rahman Ariffin at Golok Putting UMNO Branch in Kampung Imam, Kodiang at 900pm.

He is expected to remain in Alor Setar till the XII General Elections is concluded. He and wife Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd. Ali is expected to vote in Jitra, for the Kubang Pasu Parliamentary constituency.

Published in: on March 5, 2008 at 00:38  Comments (1)