The morphing of Zahid

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PETALING JAYA: His manner says it all. The usual Malay-centric aggression seen in 2013 is now slowly becoming a distant memory when people see Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, say political analysts.

In fact, they say his usual habit of having to play to the Malay gallery, filled with volcanic tirades of “Ketuanan Melayu” (Malay superiority), was slowing diminishing.

Political analysts say Zahid had finally got his game right.

They said his metamorphosis since late 2015 into a leader for all Malaysians was a necessity if he wanted to win the hearts and minds of all at the next general election.

Universiti Malaya Associate Prof Awang Azman Awang Pawi said Zahid needed to be in the good books of all Malaysians.

He said Zahid was slowly re-branding himself as a relaxed, cool, sleek and intelligent politician.

In 2013, one day after he was appointed as the new home minister after the 13th General Election, Zahid told Malaysians unhappy with the country’s political system and election results to leave the country.

In 2012, Zahid had said the controversial concept of “Ketuanan Melayu” remained relevant and was needed to help the country’s ethnic majority “develop.”

However, since the end of last year, Zahid has been calling on Malaysians to respect all races and religions.

“Before becoming DPM, his views on the Malay community were seen as aggressive.

“Perhaps, he has now realised that he needs to be the leader for all, not just the Malays,” Awang Azman said.

Furthermore, he said Vice-President Hishammuddin Hussein, the eldest son of third Prime Minister Hussein Onn and grandson of Umno stalwart Onn Jaafar, gives out a more Zen-like aura.

“Zahid has realised this and is now seen to be more calm, cool and relaxed, too.”

Political Analyst Jeniri Amir said Zahid had to move away from being too Malay-centric to be accepted and liked by all.

“His recent changes show he is on the right track. His moves seem to be right. He should continue to be the leader of all Malaysians and not just the Malay community.”

He said it was understandable if Zahid had played the role of being Malay-centric in his earlier political days to win the Malay votes, but now he had moved away from all that.

“In fact that is what other leaders should also be doing – be a leader for all Malaysians. I hope all leaders will do what Zahid is doing.

“It looks like he is changing into a new person, a person who will be liked by all. As long as he continues to unite Malaysians as one, it is a good sign.”

Zahid was appointed as deputy PM in July last year, replacing former number two, Muhyiddin Yassin.