Green Party Touts Secret Weapon For Selangor Polls





INTERVIEW | While a common feature in other democracies, the Malaysian electoral scene has never featured a party with an environmental focus, that is until former PKR man Abdul Razak Ismail’s plan to debut the Green Party in the next Selangor state elections due by June.
In an interview with Malaysiakini, Razak, 62, hinted at big plans for the Selangor polls, shaped by his personal political experience and a “secret weapon”.
“I would like to avoid jeopardising our progress,” said Razak whose idea for the Green Party started in 2010 as a virtual movement affiliated with Himpunan Hijau, a collective of over 80 environmental NGOs.
However, it was only a decade later, when the degazettement of the Kuala Langat (North) Forest Reserve by the Selangor government drove Razak to formally register the Green Party to contest an election.
With several months left until the state election, Razak (above) said there are currently seven active members in the Green Party, aside from the support of “some MPs” whom he declined to name.
“This is my secret weapon and I’m determined to use it to win in the coming state election,” said Razak who took on the role of pro-tem secretary-general.
On Jan 13, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail announced Razak’s sacking, a party that he first joined in the late 90s at the height of the Reformasi movement.
Another chance
Within PKR, Razak had experiences working with former Batu MP Tian Chua, and a stint as then Selangor executive councillor Dr Xavier Jayakumar’s aide in 2008 - at the time as part of the Pakatan Rakyat state government that also comprised DAP and PAS.
The former banker also went on to form Otai Reformis 1998 as an NGO that gathers Reformasi activists from the era.
As for his own experience in an election, Razak recalled how he contested the Kota Kemuning state seat in GE14 on a PSM ticket against DAP’s V Ganabatirau, who won the seat, and three others.
“I ran under PSM’s ticket not because I had anything against PKR but because corruption had such a strong presence in Selangor at the time. I felt I had to do something,” he said.
However, he lost his deposit, getting only 226 votes from the 46,777 who voted.
According to Razak, when he contested under PSM, he was no longer associated with PKR as he had resigned prior to GE14, though he said he was given another chance after Anwar Ibrahim’s royal pardon from his (sodomy) conviction.
“Otai Reformis went to visit Anwar in Bukit Gasing after he was released from prison and one of the members told him, ‘Razak has left PKR. He is with PSM now’.
“Then Anwar said, ‘No, no, Razak is still in PKR. He is still with us’. At that point, when the members told me what Anwar said, I wrote a letter to him and I was reinstated into the party,” he said.
Even after he was sacked, Razak still believed he had done “nothing wrong” despite being accused of breaching PKR’s code of ethics for “conducting sabotage activities to the party's decision and its leadership”.
“All I did was stage a protest in front of the MACC building in Putrajaya on Jan 4 and then I got fired, three days later.
“The protest was about government negligence on forest reserves such as Bukit Lagong and Bukit Cerakah, but it had nothing to do with our current coalition government,” he said.
“Sure, the Green Party was registered under the ROS but there is still no approval.
“It’s okay, though. I have no hard feelings and this gives me more time to focus on the country’s environmental issues,” Razak added.
Concrete jungle
Prior to forming the Green Party, Razak said he had, together with Otai Reformis, protested the degazettement of 930ha of the Kuala Langat (North) Forest Reserve to accommodate development projects, including the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).
He said that because of the lack of interest from the government, the group adopted a strong stand to fight for the reserve’s re-gazettement, putting emphasis on Klang Valley’s growth as a “concrete jungle”.
“Klang Valley is quickly becoming a hutan batu, as they call it, and on top of that, they (the state government) were willing to endanger the Orang Asli community within the reserve just to develop more pointless buildings,” he exclaimed.
Malaysiakini previously reported that a huge chunk of the reserve was made up of slots of ancestral lands for the Orang Asli community.
“There were at least nine Orang Asli settlements and so we (Otai Reformis) asked the government: ‘What do you expect the Orang Asli to do? Come to the city to work?’.
“That forest is their hunting grounds, their whole livelihood but the government insisted that more than half of the reserve needed to be degazetted to make way for more developments.
“It’s very disappointing,” he said.
Moving forward, Razak similarly remained coy when asked about the potential seats to be contested by his new party in the state election, although throughout the interview he frequently mentioned plans to fight for the preservation of the “Bukit Cerakah and Bukit Lagong forest reserves”.
Bukit Cerakah is located in Shah Alam, while Bukit Lagong is situated near Batu Caves, Gombak.
So far, there has been no indication as to when state polls, due by June, will be called in three Harapan-led states and three Perikatan Nasional-led states, despite a recommendation for simultaneous polls to be held to facilitate operations of the Election Commission. - Mkini


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