Berjasa candidate Datuk Dr Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz believes his professional background makes him the winning choice for the Tanjung Piai by-election. He tells NST about Berjasa’s ties with Pas and their agenda for Malay unity.
Question: How did you go from being an academician to a politician?
Answer: I was exposed to politics since I was young. When I was in secondary school, I used to read DAP’s magazine, The Rocket.
I would keep myself up to date with various political parties, but I was always more inclined to Pas and its ideologies. But because Pas was in the opposition and I was working for the government, I didn’t have the chance to join it. But when I was in the private sector, I became a Pas member.
One of my most memorable experiences was during the Teluk Kemang parliamentary by-election in 2001, where Pas worked with PKR and DAP. I was involved and was in the Pas Youth movement at the state level.
I decided to join Barisan Jemaah Islamiah Se-Malaysia (Berjasa) before the 2013 general election. We were with Pakatan Rakyat at the time, but we were not happy with the way Pas was working with DAP.
I was the main planner for Berjasa, deciding who to field and where candidates contest.
Q: So before this, you were only doing politics part-time?
A: Yes. After my studies, I was an assistant lecturer with Universiti Teknologi Malay- sia (UTM). After furthering my tertiary education in Japan, I came back to serve UTM as department head and associate professor.
In 1996, I left UTM and joined an American company to help set up its factory in Port Dickson. I worked from senior process engineer until I became general manager of operations.
I went back to education and worked in University Kuala Lumpur and Universiti Malaysia Pahang, before serving as Bio-engineering and Technology Faculty dean in Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK).
Earlier this year, I decided to become a full-time politician and resigned from UMK in February.
Q: Why leave education for politics?
A: I believe the country’s political situation is critical even with a new government.
We had issues with the old government, such as corruption and cronyism, but I feel that some ministers from this new government are incompetent.
When Pakatan Harapan came into power, many of us were hopeful, but now people are starting to realise that they are not as capable.
So people like myself, who are professionals, need to step in and try to build the country. To me, it is a responsibility.
I have experience in the private and public sectors, and I have a strong education background, so I believe I can contribute.
Q: What do you have to say about calls by Pas to vote for MCA instead of Berjasa, who is its Gagasan Sejahtera ally?
A: We respect the decisions and opinions of these Malay parties (Pas and Umno) on who they want to support, but Berjasa will stand by our philosophy and ideology to unite the Malays.
For us, the unity of Malays and Muslims is very important because it will benefit the whole country, including non-Muslims and non-Malays.
When you have a stable country, you become harmonious and peaceful, and that’s when we can work on the economy and be prosperous.
Q: That sounds like the Bangsa Malaysia concept.
A: It is like the Bangsa Malaysia concept, but we emphasise on the Malay-Muslim leadership. People always accuse us of being racist and fighting for Malay supremacy, but this is not about that.
This is not about ketuanan Melayu, no.
We believe that we, as Muslims, were tasked by Allah to be the caliph and leader, based on what’s enshrined in the Federal Constitution, where Islam is the federal religion.
We would like to uphold the royal institution and Malay rulers, but without sidelining the rights of non-Malays.
We are not racists. We believe in harmony and peace. But in this situation, we believe that if a Malay-Muslim leads, the country will become stable.
People may accuse me of being racist, but I’m not. My best friends in primary school were Indians and in secondary school, I was close to the Chinese.
Q: Do you think it is fair that Pas did not give its blessings for Berjasa to contest?
A: I don’t think it is, but I would prefer not to bring up this issue anymore because it is very remeh temeh (trivial). We have our own agenda to carry out.
When the Tanjung Piai seat fell vacant, we voiced our intention to contest because it is a Malay-majority area. Malays here have been asking for a Malay representative since the last four elections.
We issued a statement saying that if Umno or Pas were considering fielding a Malay candidate, we will support him or her 100 per cent and would not contest. We wouldn’t have contested if they had put up a Malay candidate.
Q: Do you feel upset? Because Berjasa and Pas have a formal cooperation, but the Pas-Umno Muafakat Nasional is not formal.
A: For Berjasa, there are no hard feelings or disappointment with others. We believe in the bigger agenda — we would like to see Malay unity.
That’s why we were strong supporters of Muafakat Nasional. Pas and Umno have been fighting for many years and it is not good for the country or the Malays. So they decided to sign a cooperation charter. It was a big step for the Malays.
We would like to invite Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia to work towards Malay unity with us.