Saturday, March 21, 2009


Dato' Mukhriz Mahathir (born November 1964) is the third son and fifth child of the former prime minister of Malaysia, YABhg Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and YABhg Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Hj Mohd. Ali.

He is the newly elected Member of Parliament for Jerlun, Kedah as well as UMNO Youth's highest voted exco member.

Mukhriz Mahathir also serves as the Chairman of the UMNO Youth International and NGO Relations Bureau and is also an appointed Malaysian member to the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA).

A captain of industry, he currently serves as the chairman of OPCOM Holdings Berhad, Malaysia's leading fiber optics manufacturer. He is also active and passionate about Bioven Sdn Bhd, a cancer treatment/vaccine research endeavour.

Furthermore, Mukhriz Mahathir is deeply committed to various voluntary organizations and remains a leading force behind several international and local non-governmental organizations and associations.

In particular - PEACE MALAYSIA or 'Malaysians for PEACE' which is a coalition of NGOs; comprising of voluntary organizations, youth groups, uniformed bodies, political parties, religious associations, welfare bodies, students and professionals alike in the common goal of pursuing a comprehensive, permanent and just world peace.

Mukhriz Mahathir also leads ANSARA - an alumni of ex-Maktab Rendah Sains MARA (MRSM) students of Malaysia.

He has been the driving force behind ANSARA as President since its early establishment in 1994 with 14 branches of ANSARA nationwide.

Under his stewardship, ANSARA has spearheaded many activities that benefited hundreds of bright bumiputera professionals via the Young Malay Professional Congress (Kongres Profesional Melayu Muda) and assisted many urban and rural poor students under the platform of ANSARA' Student Charity Hope Fund (Tabung Harapan Ihsan Pelajar).

Mukhriz Mahathir is also the Chairman of the dynamic Malaysian Franchise Association.

Also, as the Executive Director of the Perdana Global Peace Organisation (PGPO) he is committed to global peace and putting an end to wars.

Currently, Mukhriz Mahathir is making a popular bid-propelled by grassroots supports upon which he has gained the highest number of nominations at 74 to contest the position of Ketua Pemuda Umno Malaysia on a platform of clean and credible leadership in the hope of rejuvenating UMNO, Barisan Nasional and our beloved country. He is our best hope for the future simply because he - Dares to Change!

When one speaks of Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, chances are the talk will move on to his illustrious father. While Mukhriz, 44, readily admits that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s name had opened doors for him, he staunchly maintains that he is his own man. The stage is now set for him to chart his own role in local politics.

The Boston University graduate and Jerlun MP, who faces outgoing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin and former Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo in the battle for the top Umno Youth post, shares his concerns and plans for Umno, and money politics, with ZAINAL EPI.

Why are you offering yourself?

It’s about change. It is critical at this moment to redefine Umno’s struggles to ensure that we connect with the Malay electorate; to make the party relevant. Failure to do this will risk us losing the next general election.

What makes you think so?

There is now a great demand for changes to be effected from within the party; to take it back to its original self and to fight for the Malay struggles. We must put Umno back on the path set long before us, from the days of the late Datuk Onn Jaafar and regain the momentum that we have lost.

You are going in to to effect these changes?

My offer is not important. What is important is that Umno regains its glorious past, (and remains) the dominant political party in the country. If no one else champions this cause within Umno, to bring back credibility and trust, then I am keen to do so.You are not alone in offering this change. The other two candidates are offering the same.

Your comments?

I think it is important (for party members) not to look at what one says but at what one does. Deeds speak louder than words. I think everyone makes promises and I think there is no lack of promises people are willing to throw, but some are believable and some are questionable. I believe we have to look at track records, to see whether what we say holds water or not.

And your track record?

When I said I want to play the role of an agent of change, I think people have seen that I have been consistent in voicing out and demanding change. So, the "dare to change" theme of my campaign does not come across as something uncharacteristic of me. That’s how I differentiate myself from the other two candidates.You wanted change and the change has come with party president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stepping down ....

Much as Datuk Seri Abdullah stepping down represents the change that we want, and I must admit that is something I have been requesting, this does not mean Umno is suddenly becoming relevant again. There is no guarantee the support we have lost will return. That was why I asked for the transition to be expedited, to be brought earlier. We really have no time to lose because the change we seek is going to take time. It’s not going to happen overnight.

How exactly do you plan to do this?

I don’t know whether specific policies need to be reversed, but definitely the confidence of the people, especially that of the Malays, has to be restored. This needs a lot of effort.You were not in the limelight when your father was prime minister. You were in business.

During that period, did you get any patronage from your father?

I am not the type of person who wants to live under the father’s armpit, meaning that my whole life depends on him. We were not allowed to work with the government when he was Prime Minister, forbidden, that is. So our only option was the private sector. From a very young age, each time we went for holidays, his (Dr Mahathir’s) definition of a good holiday includes paying visits to factories. From a young age, I have seen the workings of factories and after a while, this got programmed into the mind and my interest developed. Better still if someone pays you for the products (you churn out). That was how I got into optic cable manufacturing. It is to meet a need in the country because at that time, all our cables were imported. I was the first to produce it locally.

But to get a government contract for such a big project, surely your father would have had some influence?

I can say for sure that he was not at all involved in making the decision (to accept my proposal). Well, first, we have to understand there was a need for telecommunication infrastructure to be built to meet the demand. No one was doing it at that time, so I was meeting a need.

Secondly, the entity was Telekom Malaysia. It was corporatised, it makes its own decisions, being a public listed company. They made the decision. If I produced a shoddy product, I would have gone nowhere. In fact, it would have been scandalous. I have to admit that having him as my last name has opened doors and I kind of appreciate that, but in the end, if you don’t perform, you won’t achieve anything. I didn’t have it easy. With all due respect to him, my family has had it quite tough during his time.

Civil servants, especially, even if they were fair, may be accused of discrimination against others. To avoid all that, he made it even tougher for us, compared with others. So, we didn’t get a fair chance. Our records speak for themselves during my father’s time. You can ask the seven of us in the family (laughs).Everyone is talking about money politics in the Umno elections.

Your comments?

I hear all sorts of things but it is not for me to go out there and investigate. Actually, this is a very critical issue, in fact more critical than what I have said earlier. If we don’t resolve the evil of money politics, there is really no point talking about vision, mission and what not. Everything goes down the drain.

The perception is that our leaders in Umno are chosen because of how much they pay out. We know our leaders assume high posts in the government. If they get there and people perceive them to be such (vote-buying) leaders, whether it’s true or not, then there is no integrity. We have to show example, and lead by example.

I feel anxious and tense about this issue because at this particular moment, it is tough enough to gain people’s confidence but before that, we must gain their respect, and yet, we can’t even get pass this one (money politics) yet. Why? We have to do lots of spring cleaning before we start working on other issues. It’s an in-house problem. At this particular moment, I wish we can turn the tide by showing the rakyat that we are dead serious about fighting money politics. Unfortunately, we do not see this happening. I think we need some shock treatment right now. We are in cardiac arrest, we need to be given a jolt, either the party disciplinary committee or Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) has to wake us up from our slumber.

Whatever it takes, even without reports, the ACA should come in. There is no point waiting till after the election to take action. You are deemed to be the cleanest candidate. You do not even buy drinks or give petrol money.

How do you then cope with money politics?

People called me up and told me about money politics taking place. I told them to put up their reports and submit them. That, in itself, is action.

I feel that we cannot keep going after the small fry, it is important to catch the sharks. I have seen it with my own eyes in the past. The atmosphere was akin to a feeding frenzy the three days before the last divisional meeting. When you walked into a hotel room, it was like diving into shark infested waters, really scary. I hope the ACA can station its men in all hotels for the Umno elections.

Your advice to party members?

In order to champion this cause, we must rid ourselves of money politics and I am willing to lose this contest just to make that point. I am willing to sacrifice anything and everything for Umno. In fact, I believe my father leaving the party was his own way of doing the same. He didn’t help me much by leaving the party. In fact, he has hurt my chances, but I think the message is clear. I am willing to sacrifice for the party, to fight money politics, even if it means losing the battle for Youth chief.

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