Malaysian Insider: Syed Hussein resigns?
By G. Manimaran
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 — Dr Syed Husin Ali, who was recently elected senator after a five-decade involvement in politics, has decided to resign from his post as deputy president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
The Malaysian Insider understand the decision, if accepted by the party’s central leadership, is expected to open the way to “fierce” competition when the party holds its elections in the middle of the year.
It is also expected to bring significant changes to the leadership line-up in the run up to the thirteenth general election.
PKR had recently introduced amendments to the party’s constitution to allow for direct elections involving the grassroots.
In May 2007, Syed Husin retained his post unchallenged after Azmin Ali, who had hinted at having a go at the spot, withdrew from the race.
Three years prior to that, Syed Husin had won the post of deputy president with a 533-vote majority.
The 73-year-old is also the ex-president of Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM), and subsequently became the No 2 man in PKR following the merger between his former party and Parti Keadilan Nasional.
He entered politics when he joined PRM in 1958 and was once a “guest” of the government, when he was held under the ISA for six years starting from December 1974.
“I had decided long ago to give up the deputy presidency, to slowly withdraw from active politics,” said Syed Husin in an interview with The Malaysian Insider following his appointment as Senator.
The interview was conducted prior to his meeting with Datuk Salehuddin Hashim announcement of his decision to quit as PKR’s secretary-general, effective Jan 31.
According to Syed Husin, he had made up his mind to withdraw from the political arena a while back but had not been given the go-ahead.
“Sometimes the needs and wants of politics supersedes your own,” said the man who has contested thrice in the country’s general elections and lost in all three attempts.
He did not stand for election in Elections 2008.
With his being made a Senator, however, he is finally able to make his way into Parliament.
The former University Malaya lecturer feels there is enough new blood in PKR to take over the helm of the 11-year-old party.
“We now have the young leaders to take over,” he said.
Syed Husin obtained his Ph.D from the London School of Economics.
The leader who has always been seen to practise moderation in his life was made a member of the Senate by the Selangor state government.
Syed Husin, who still goes around in his two-decades old Volvo 850, which he bought 16 years ago from the proceeds of his book “Two Faces: Detention Without Trial”, said that he was not actually interested in becoming a senator.
“I accepted the decision of the Selangor state government when I was still on my hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
“If I could, I would not have accepted but since the Sultan of Selangor gave his consent and I had only a small window to make up my mind, I had no choice… I accepted it to serve,” he said.
Asked whether he was satisfied with his standing as a member of Parliament, which entitles him to be called “Yang Berhormat”, Syed Husin smirked and said: “Now I am a full-time politician but I am already aged, already 73.”
Throughout his 50 years in politicis, Syed Husin has had many experiences of being detained and manhandled by the authorities but he still feels there is much to do in his fight to champion the cause of the needy.
“If you ask me if I am content, I will say no,” mused the father of three.
“I want to see changes in policy and government systems; [I] want the government to act firmly to help the people… have pro-people policies, to help the poor,” said Syed Husin.
Regarding Pakatan Rakyat, Syed Husin was confident the DAP-PAS-PKR alliance had a bright future in leading a federal administration.
“In politics, anything can happen. I was actually confident we would do well in March 2008… we exceeded our own expectations,” he said.
“Across five decades I have seen many efforts to unite the opposition; Pakatan is the best so far.
“Given the chance (to rule), I want Pakatan not to emulate the failings and shortcomings of the Barisan Nasional all this while,” said Syed Husin.
He also admitted that while the PR-run state administrations, including those won in the recent election, have shown good performance, there was still room for improvement.