Nazri - Principled Politician Or Crass Opportunist?
If we follow Nazri's more 'heated' statements over the years we can see a remarkable consistency. He has always called a cangkul a cangkul, no matter what the issue was, who he spoke about and despite the great risks in doing so.
He had not minced his words even when Dr M was the PM, once telling off Mahathir publicly. Nazri was at that time the UMNO youth leader and his public remonstrations against Mahathir drew strong reaction from party bosses and the public. Biadap was how many had then described him.
I still remember that a couple of days after he shot his mouth off, he retracted his statement and under severe pressure apologized to Mahathir. There were then rumours of how he was summoned to Sri Perdana, and while waiting for the PM to make his entrance he chanced upon a dossier on him which was kept conveniently close to him and after perusing the said dossier he had a change of heart and subsequently apologized! I cannot vouch for the veracity of that story but hey, are we not one of the few countries where the public is constantly reminded not to listen to khabar angin?
Over the years he has made many enemies with his brutally frank replies and arguments. Several years ago at the height of the 'taxi permit' scandal he gave a dressing down to a high ranking ACA officer, basically telling him to shut up and that the said officer is merely a subordinate while he (Nazri) was his political master.
Memorable also are his many 'battles' in Parliament where he has been portrayed as arrogant, racist and amok prone. Even here if we were to remove the emotional component and view his statements at face value we will find that he is consistent in his opinions - "Tell it as it is and to hell with you if you don't like it" is probably his motto.
He has of course over the years done his share of kowtowing. (I remember being very amused when Dr M was PM, and everytime he returned from a foreign trip the antics of the retinue of hand kissers at the airport, each trying to outdo the other in their sincerity and 'genuineness', as if he were royalty, never failed to evoke laughter.) Nazri was no exception to this public demonstration of loyalty and acknowledgement that he knew which side his roti was buttered.
Now the question arises, what if Nazri had maintained all that he rightly or wrongly believes in, but had done it with less bluster and had couched it in more 'politically correct' terms, would things have been different? Could he have avoided becoming the 'hate figure' he is now? If he had been much more diplomatic in his public reactions and relations would he, instead of being cast as an ungrateful opportunist, be thought of instead as a principled politician holding steadfast to the highest standards of political and public office?
I don't know. Do you?