Sunday, March 24, 2013

Daim Zainuddin NST Interview - Part One

Say what you like about Malaysia's former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, he sure makes good copy. And especially now..everybody wants a piece of him -- wants to know what he thinks. he says it as it is.
You can choose to ignore him, to not believe a word he says.. it's a free country.
But here's the first part of the NST interview with Daim, headlined "I Want Najib To Win, Anwar Not Fit To Be PM".

WHENEVER Tun Daim Zainuddin is not orbiting the globe, he will be holed up in his workstation at Wisma YPR (Yayasan Pok Rafeah, named after his late mother).

His desk is one sprawling clutter of printouts and financial analyses helpfully sent daily by an organisation headed by a friend -- a former prime minister of a neighbouring Asian country.

The hallway is in a different galaxy. It is virtually an art gallery. He owns more than 2,000 paintings. Some paintings are now worth 10 times what he paid for. He was chairman of the National Art Gallery before he joined the cabinet. The lawyer-turned-housing developer who later became finance minister (twice) is not selling.

The range of passions is bewildering. He is a fan of Datuk Shah Rukh Khan. Daim is a significant shareholder of a bank with many branches in Africa. He is chairman of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) audit committee.

At 74, he plays badminton with increasingly younger mates. And, he displays a Manchester United replica jersey autographed by Sir Bobby Charlton.

"I am a busybody," he explained as he greeted New Straits Times journalists -- A. JALIL HAMID, RASHID YUSOF and HARIZ MOHD -- and photographer, ZAHARI ZAKARIA, to kickstart a series of exhaustive interviews.

Daim, who had precipitated a near-crash of the stock market in 1994 with his "sell" advice and later named "chief conspirator" by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, has since sparked a media frenzy for a new reason.

It is political punditry, having correctly predicted the outcome of the March 2008 general election; so the NST prodded him for new predictions. We probed his political allegiance and provoked him even as the sessions shifted focus from one hot topic to another.

By the time we were done, newer perspectives and insights had been gleaned from the political events of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the future of Umno, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Anwar, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Lee Kuan Yew, to the rise of China and the Arab Spring (which he jokingly referred to as "the Arab Fall").

Daim: "If you ask me, between the two, Najib or Anwar, I would choose Najib."

Question: Tun, since your retirement, you have given a number of interviews to the Chinese dailies, but hardly any to the mainstream media. Any particular reason for this?

Answer: I have been asked to give so many interviews, but all they wanted to know is when will the elections be held and what is my prediction of the outcome. So, before the election, which I predict will be by next month (he laughs), this will be my last interview.
I don't want to give any more interviews because all of you only ask about the elections and it's quite tiresome.
Also, I don't want people to misquote me. I heard people say that I had said BN would win only three states. That is not true. You must read my answers in full. I said BN, in particular Umno, must work hard, stay united and put up the best candidates to win.
Yes, I have given interviews to Chinese press mostly. The Chinese wanted to understand the thinking of the Malays. To address their concerns, I must know what is in their minds, their fears and their aspirations and they wanted to know if our economic policies are right. They want peace in the country and they know to have peace, you need political stability.
Have you read their articles on government policies? Someone will whisper to the government about this or that paper, or that this writer is being anti-establishment.
I say, "Stop!" I have read their articles. While they do criticise, they are not being anti-establishment. You argue with facts and statistics. The process will produce a healthy debate.

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