The world came crashing down on me after I suggested in a tweet and a blog posting that Tun Daim Zainuddin and his billionaire friends were making key decisions for the Pakatan Harapan government.
First Mr Lim Guan Eng called and said my statement was uncalled for as it was not true and not based on facts. He suggested that I make a retraction. Then my closest friends asked why I was picking unnecessary fights with so many people. Even my family members seemed unhappy. They told me we would no longer have food on the table if I continued giving opinions about powerful people in the country.
The die is cast.
I now fully retract my statement about Tun Daim’s involvement with the Pakatan Harapan government and the reference to his role in making important decisions. I regret my unfair and unjustified remarks and apologise to both Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Daim Zainuddin for the anguish my writing has caused them both. In all my years of writing, I have taken great pains to ensure the accuracy of the information I received, but this one is obviously faulty and has crossed the line of responsible writing. I much regret it.
To my readers:
I have decided it’s best for my self esteem and my family’s welfare that I cease writing altogether. I started writing regularly nine years ago. It’s difficult to write with honesty and some courage without upsetting or hurting some feelings somewhere.
Five years before the Wall Street Journal report about the 1MDB scandal came out, I gave a speech at the Kuala Lumpur Rotary Club where I spoke of the undesirability of having Dato Seri Najib Razak succeed Tun Abdullah Badawi as prime minister because of the many financial scandals that I believed he was embroiled in although the stories were not out yet.
The reaction was fast and furious, just like it is now, and that’s why I took the step of retiring from my firm Zaid Ibrahim & Co so that it would not suffer from the association with me. Such was the heavy price I had to pay for the freedom to speak on matters that I thought were important to the country.
Having left the firm, I continued writing, on average three times a week. Sometimes I ran foul of the law, at least as perceived by the then attorney-general. I was in and out of court countless times. Fortunately for me, my friends M Puravalen, Americk Singh and Gopal Sri Ram took the cases pro bono and I was able to survive five long years of court actions.
I thought that a new country would be born from the struggles of the people against Najib Razak, and I was playing my part as a responsible citizen should. I got pats on my back for those writings and no one then said I was picking unnecessary fights. Now an opinion piece on Tun Daim has caused so much anger from so many, exacting another heavy price from me.
Not only I will stop writing altogether, I will no longer be a member of any political party. I have wasted enough years in politics, thinking I could make some difference to the country, but it’s not to be. Maybe Malaysian politics does not need someone like me and I have realised this a little too late. I thought I had given Pakatan Harapan enough in the last eight years to at least get some respect and recognition from its members, but it’s not to be.
I will now start working again to pay for the debts I have accumulated in the many years in the wilderness. To my friends who remain steadfast and support me in finding a job again, I say thank you. To my readers, I appreciate your support too. They called me all sorts of names – maverick and what not – but don’t believe them. I am just a simple man who believes in truth and justice, but I don’t have the means to fight anymore.
Zaid Ibrahim is a former law minister.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.