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According to Shamsul Amri Baharuddin in December 1993 edition of Dewan Masyarakat, there’s no country in this world that doesn’t have their own group of intellectual bureaucrats. He also said that intellectual bureaucrats are discreetly the driving force of a country’s development, covering everything from internal and foreign policies, macro and microeconomics to the reformation of the judiciary system [sic] in some cases.

Who are actually these intellectual bureaucrats anyway? Most of them are academicians or professionals that excel in their relative fields. They are then absorbed into the ruling administration either by appointing them as senators in parliament, spearheading government-linked companies, fore fronting the mass media, becoming ambassadors, or maybe becoming members of significant bodies and commissions. They are the think tanks of the government. In a way, they provide the old and incompetent politicians some relevant things to say and do.

Zaid Ibrahim, I think was an intellectual bureaucrat by Malaysian (my?) standards. He was an attorney at law with the largest law firm in this country, Zaid Ibrahim & Co. He was a permanent legal consultant for Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) and a columnist for some DBP’s publications since the early 1990s.

Since his appointment as law minister in March 2008, three major recommendations have been made by Zaid within his capacity urging the government to improve the judiciary system.

• Apology and restitution for the judges sacked or suspended in the 1988 judicial crisis. There was no apology from the Government but it awarded ex-gratia payments to the judges involved;

• Setting up a Judicial Appointments Commission. Although it was announced by Abdullah at a public dinner in April, the proposal has been delayed following objections from certain Cabinet members; and

• Restoration of Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution relating to civil and syariah jurisdiction to its original wording. It was rejected because of objections from some Cabinet members and the Attorney General’s Chambers, although the Chief Justice said the judiciary was in favour.

None of the recommendations were taken seriously. The ex-gratia payments were just cosmetics to shut the mouths of certain parties regarding the prolonged judicial crisis.

As an intellectual bureaucrat, Zaid should stand firm with his stand and principles rather than being a lalang like most Malaysian orthodox politicians. This was proven recently when Raja Petra, Teresa Kok and Tan Hoon Cheng were detained under the ISA. Because the government wasn’t taking steps to improve the judiciary, the ISA incident triggered Zaid to resign.

Like Nuraina A. Samad said, which I can’t agree more, you can say what you like about Zaid. You can doubt, be suspicious of his action. Is there a hidden agenda? You may ask. Well, he spoke up, he protested and he quit in protest. Do you see anyone else willing to do the same? He may not be the first (nor the last) to speak up against the abuse of the ISA, but he sure is the only minister to have quit in protest against the use and abuse of the ISA. For that, Zaid, you’re the man. Man of the hour, at least for now.

*Prof Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin is a professor of social anthropology and, formerly, Director [1999-2007], the Institute of the Malay World & Civilization (ATMA), and Founding Director [Oct.2003 – Jan. 2007), Institute of Occidental Studies (IKON), and, currently, Founding Director [since Oct. 2007],- Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, (UKM). He is known among Malaysian academia and political pundits as a man who speaks his mind. Not one to mince his words, he is acknowledged as an Occidentalist par excellence among international circles.

*Henry Kissinger was the National Security Advisor and later the Secretary of State during the Nixon and Ford administration. He played a prominent role in the United States foreign policies between 1969 and 1977.

“… You are always trying to keep it real
I’m in love with how you feel
I don’t see what anyone can see, in anyone else
But you…”

The Moldy Peaches – Anyone Else But You