Tan Sri Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, one of Kedah's most colourful politicians, is said to be on the verge of joining PAS but his brothers are begging him not to take the step.
Joceline Tan, The Star
ON the day that former Umno minister Tan Sri Kadir Sheikh Fadzir was scheduled to speak at a PAS ceramah in Kupang, a tiny village near Baling, his younger brother Datuk Musa Sheikh Fadzir phoned him to beg him not to go.
“That is our kampung, our family is there. I told him, please don't damage our name,” said Musa, who is the Bukit Mertajam Umno chief.
His pleas fell on deaf ears and Baling is still abuzz over Kadir's appearance on a PAS stage last week. It was something few people in this quiet and laidback town ever thought they would see in their lifetime.
Kadir was one of the most flamboyant figures in politics. There is something rather theatrical about him, from his attire to the way he expresses himself.
Some in Umno used to call him the Bollywood Minister because of his part-Indian heritage.
He is always immaculately groomed, although his hair has turned a rather odd shade of orange and is sort of longish and curling over his collar.
Charming and flirtatious, there has always been that ladies' man image about him.
He is a cosmopolitan man who enjoys the lighter side of life and it is hard to see him fitting into PAS, where people are expected to conform rather than be individuals.
Kadir, 73, has been making news since joining forces with his old friend Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to form Angkatan Amanah Merdeka (Amanah) last year.
But sparks flew when he started to criticise Umno for using money to win elections and of being intolerant of criticism.
It did not help that he went on to describe Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as having the makings of a great Malaysian leader.
By then, the Umno camp was all worked up over Kadir's about-turn and he found himself under attack, especially on the Internet. One thing led to another and on March 19, he quit Umno.
But more drama lies ahead and Kadir is planning to take things to another level.
You will be hearing about it (what he intends to do) in the next few weeks, he promised.
Apart from Musa, there is another younger brother Datuk Aziz Sheikh Fadzir, who is still an active politician in Kedah, plus their nephew Senator Datuk Omar Fuadzar, who is the Bukit Gelugor Umno chief in Penang.
They are very much a pro-Umno family and feel that Kadir, who is the second in their family of 11 siblings, has put them in a very awkward situation. They must be having heart palpitations wondering what their big brother is going to do next.
“It has nothing to do with contracts or business. He felt neglected and ignored. He misses the old life, his ego exceeds his real self,” said Aziz, who had taken over the Kulim Bandar Baru seat from Kadir in 2008 but lost to lawyer Zulkifli Noordin.
Kadir, it is learnt, had initially hoped to turn Amanah into a political party and to contest on that ticket but ran into opposition from Amanah members.
Besides, Amanah president Tengku Razaleigh is staying put in Umno and Gua Musang, which is his for the taking in the general election.
“He is a man of many talents and he feels people have not recognised his contributions but that does not justify joining the other side to attack Umno.
“We must be able to retire gracefully,” said Kedahan Datuk Zainuddin Maidin, who took over as Information Minister when Kadir retired.
Kadir's action may draw this common reaction: what is he complaining about? He has a palace in Baling and a castle in Janda Baik.
Villa Shakira (picture above), named after his late mother, is a stupendously grand-looking house in Baling. Kadir also has a fancy Tudor-style mansion in a generous spread of land in Janda Baik.
“When you enjoy the good, you talk good things. When you are out, suddenly you start talking bad. Everywhere I go, people have been asking me what happened. I still love him as a brother but I have lost respect for him as a politician. The whole family feels frustrated about this,” said Musa.
His friends in Umno think he has bitten the hand that has enabled him to enjoy such a sumptuous lifestyle.
They say the party has done as much for him as he has for the party and that he should be grateful.
They can understand veteran politicians feeling left out but to go to the extent of joining the other side to attack Umno is too much for them to accept.
“I read somewhere that he criticised the Government expenditure on the BR1M payments. My eyes almost fell out,” said another retired politician from Kedah.
Kadir is being greeted like a long-lost brother by Pakatan Rakyat politicians as he prepares to revive his political career.
The speculation is that he may form his own political party, failing which he may join PAS or PKR. His debut on a PAS stage seems to suggest that he may be heading that way.
His brothers are bracing for the worst. But his biggest enemy is not Umno or Barisan but the baggage that he carries over from his years in the Government.
He seems to have found enlightenment in his golden years. Unfortunately, many of his remarks today is contradictory to his time as a leading figure in the Government and that affects his credibility. Moreover, crossover politicians are no longer as appealing as before.
He has lots of bullets to use against his old party but his Umno friends have as much ammunition to fire back at him. It may get very nasty when friends battle friends and brothers take on each other.
“I am begging him, please don't do it (join the Opposition). We helped him when he was in politics. Now is our time, he should help us. I told him PAS will use you, Anwar Ibrahim will exploit you, then they will chuck you,” said Musa.