Despite his boyish looks, Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s Nik Nazmi is hardly a novice in Malaysia’s political sphere.
The newly-minted Member of Parliament served as the State Assemblyman for Seri Setia for two terms, before winning the Setiawangsa seat in the 14th General Elections.
“This is the only seat that Barisan Nasional had never lost in KL (Wilayah Persekutuan Federal Territory).”
“The Rakyat wanted change. As MP, I must deliver the change. At the same time, I must not forsake those who did not vote for me. There is a significant number of BN and PAS supporters in my constituency,” says the 36-year-old.
Nik Nazmi started out as Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s assistant before he was nominated to contest in Seri Setia in the 2008 General Elections, in which he was the youngest candidate.
He then served as political secretary to former Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.
We must bring the reforms carried out in Selangor - institutional reforms and economic policies - to the federal level
In 2010, the King’s College law graduate was appointed as PKR’s Communications Director. He was later made party youth chief in 2014, whilst serving as Selangor’s EXCO in charge of Education, Human Capital Development, Science, Technology and Innovation.
“I count myself lucky,” says Nik Nazmi when pointed out to the fact that he never had to serve on the opposition bench as ADUN in Selangor, and now, MP in the Pakatan Harapan-led federal government.
“We must bring the reforms carried out in Selangor - institutional reforms and economic policies - to the federal level,” Nik Nazmi emphasises.
“For instance, I am glad that the government has agreed to set aside allocations to elected representatives from the opposition,” says Nik Nazmi on Pakatan Harapan’s promise to provide funding based on a transparent formula to all members of the Dewan Rakyat.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had announced that PH parliamentarians will get allocations to the tune of RM500,000 but only RM100,000 for opposition MPs.
There was no such allocation for the opposition when Barisan Nasional was in power but PH was questioned for not giving equal allocations to all MPs irrespective of party.
“Yes, there were debates about the amount given to opposition MPs but this is a good start. It was not done before,” says Nik Nazmi.
Addressing Economic Issues Affecting the Working Class
Issues affecting the working class must be addressed immediately, for the people in the kampung and city. For example, a household earning four to five thousand ringgit may seem a lot. That, however, is not sufficient for a family living in the city. There are faced with lots of pressure. We must start making tangible difference.
Nik Nazmi Warns Against Exploitation of Race, Religion
PH must be vigilant as they are people out there looking to exploit race and religion to stir dissent, ahead of the next general elections in five years time. Malaysians are more ‘open’ now but their views could very well turn the other way. Look at United States. Americans turned to Donald Trump. Look at what happened with Brexit. We must learn from the mistakes of others.
More Power to Local Government, Councils
Firstly, we should democratised Kuala Lumpur City Hall. A good example is the Australian Capital Territory in Canberra. It has internal self-government but is not afforded full legislative independence provided to Australian states. We can also emulate Greater London which has a directly elected mayor system. The mayor of London is an elected politician.We should at least try to implement it in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan first as these areas are democratic deficit.
Nik Nazmi Will Not Seek Re-Election as PKR Youth Chief
PKR is unlike other political parties. Our Youth wing age limit is 35-years-old and below. There will not be an exception for the chief post. I’m already 36-years-old. I will be disqualified even if I contest. As for my future plans within the party, I’ve yet to make up my mind.
We have many capable young PKR leaders such as YB Kangar (Noor Amin Ahmad), YB Batu (Prabakaran). We have shown a good track record and we want to bring lasting reforms. As much as winning is important, reform is our main objective. We want to implement reforms for the younger generation.
Podcast of the interview: