Via the live telecast of the recently concluded UMNO General Assembly, and the resultant furore, one can tell that the voice of reason is pretty much limited within the communal party. However, over the past few years, there are possibly 2-3 voices within the party which I pretty much enjoy hearing for their reasoned arguments as well as their frank sincerity.
One of them is the Kota Baru Member of Parliament (MP), Datuk Zaid Ibrahim. He has been known to be outspoken with his views, particularly on the need for reforms in government, in the New Economic Policy (NEP), in reversing brain drain and even on the need to eliminate racially-denominated parties.
He joined politics in the year 2000 and was at some stage early in Pak Lah's administration touted as a possible Minister to bolster a cabinet capable of achieving his promised vision. Much to the disappointment of many, including myself, he was instead sidelined and even found guilty of "money politics" in UMNO (for hosting dinners).
He has served his 18 months suspension from the party as punishment (which ironically did not affect his seat or place in Parliament), and yet he has to endure the humiliation of not being reinstated as the Kota Baru UMNO division head. He believes that "the Umno supreme council made other considerations" and denied him justice. In all probability, he is being punished for promoting progressive and equitable policies in the interest of the rakyat.
Now, I've never preached that affirmative action policies should not be granted to the deserving. The question has always been when such policies should be ended, and the tongkat removed. Datuk Zaid Ibrahim obviously finds that he doesn't deserve the tongkat anymore and is now preaching the need for affirmative action policies to be based on need rather than race.
However, obviously, his political masters in UMNO think otherwise and they felt the need to marginalise right-thinking politicians such as Datuk Zaid Ibrahim. The UMNO Supreme Council led by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi obviously believe that it is in UMNOputras interest to profit themselves even further by retaining the status quo, at the expense of the deserving poor Malays, Chinese and Indian rakyat.