Khalid Samad: We Barked Before, Now We Bite

MALAYSIA BAHARU

Khalid Samad: We Barked Before, Now We Bite

GE14 extracted its toll on the Samad family, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad won Shah Alam while elder brother Shahrir failed to retain Johor Baharu. It is left to Khalid now in government to keep on the family seat in the august house.

Khalid Samad has probably come full circle in politics in a good 35 years - having been in opposition party PAS for decades and then breaking away into Parti Amanah Nasional (Amanah)​, and now in the government.

Not to mention the fact that he also has it in his family - what with his elder brother Datuk Seri Shahrir Samad as a top UMNO politician. 

Khalid is now the Federal Territories Minister. As a matter of fact, this is the very minister portfolio that his brother once held in 1987. 

The one thing he always had had to address was whether they are actually related by blood –  seeing how two opposites they are.

"Yes, Shahrir Samad is my brother and yes, we are from the same parents," he has said over and over again.

This time round, however, Khalid, three term Shah Alam MP,​ is the one in the government and Shahrir is ​in the opposition when Barisan Nasional lost in the last election.​

Khalid Samad clocks in to work at the Ministry of Federal Territories on July 3, 2018. Next to him is FT secretary-general Datuk Seri Adnan Md Ikhsan - Bernama 

This graduate of Leeds University denies the allegation that having been in the opposition for so long, the present government is still playing at being the opposition and yet to govern as a proper government.

"Firstly, I think that we have got to understand is that the phrase “stop being the opposition” may not be quite apt because the fact of the matter is that we have got a lot of mess to clean up. And cleaning up the mess is not opposition work, just because we are looking into 1MDB, we are looking into financial costs of all the other scandals and etc., it doesn’t mean we are playing the opposition. 

"Actually we are trying to settle the issues which prevents the government from playing the role as a proper government," says Khalid. 

He points out that should the mess of the previous government not be cleaned up, it would not give any closure to the rakyat. He says it would be akin to sweeping everything under the carpet despite winning the mandate of the people.

"What we want is to make sure that all the institutions responsible for checking misuse of power, corruption are independent, so that they can take action. This is something new for these institutions because all this while they've been bridled. Now, we are telling them “Hey, you’ve got the power, we want you to get hold of people who are responsible irrespective how high up they once were," says Khalid. 

He concedes that while 'cleaning up', there is a need to ensure the government is also looking ahead.

"I agree we have also got to move forward and we have got to decide on policies that will ensure a better future for the country. This is also being taken care of because part of the things that’s being done is identifying projects which are a waste and are too expensive," says Khalid.

He says that lopsided contracts will be ended and money will be used responsibly for the benefits of the people.

He also says that the government is ensuring the new ministers walk the talk and not merely seat warmers.

"I think the new ministers have already given their vision and their mission statements when they took over. To a large extent, it’s being worked on and it’s being implemented but it’s not moving as fast as many people expect, but I think generally we are moving in the right direction," says Khalid.  

He says that the slower pace may be due to the cautious method. for there are much to overcome in the way things were done in the previous government.  

We have to make sure that we live up to what we have been preaching all this while

Realising that there will be short term reactions to the economy while the government gets its act together, Khalid says that one has to realise it is better to suffer in the short term than be destroyed in the long term.  

"It is better we do a market correction which will allow things to stabilise at its actual proper value rather than boosting it up by wanting to implement multi billion dollar projects, which will only bring the country into further debt. These are things are going to bring temporary short term negative impact," says Khalid.

Now that Pakatan Harapan is in control of both state governments (in most states) and Putrajaya, Khalid says that there should be no excuses for not governing the right way.

Earlier, Khalid says that the state governments in Selangor and Penang had to halt some of the changes promised to the people as some areas fell under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, which was then Barisan Nasional.

"We have to make sure that we live up to what we have been preaching all this while. Make sure that we have a truly transparent government which is accountable and works for the interest for the public and nation nation as a whole, and not for any particular group within society. So, this is the challenge," says Khalid.

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