PeTALING JAYA: Outgoing Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) chief executive officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan is likely to join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and contest in the general election.
The head of IDEAS, an independent think tank, confirmed yesterday that he would leave his current party PAS for another party but kept mum on where he was headed to.
Asked whether he would contest in the general election, he said: “I am certainly interested. I think I can play a role to help improve the governance of Malaysia. But the party has not confirmed anything with me.”
Talk is rife that Wan Saiful will join Pribumi, which is headed by Pakatan Harapan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and contest a seat in Johor or Kedah.
Wan Saiful said when contacted yesterday that his decision to switch parties came after his column in The Star titled “It’s high time for a shift to policy” criticising rampant hypocrisy in Malaysian politics was published on Feb 13.
In the article, he lamented that politicians often played the race and religious card and rarely debated on policy and governance.
“In the same week the column was published, several unexpected conversations took place with leaders of different political parties,” Wan Saiful said, adding that this led to his decision to quit PAS.
He said his switch from a think tank head to politician “is to improve the quality of our political debate”.
“PAS has warped into its 1980s thinking. Identity politics still dominate.
“We are overly fixated with the past and not sufficiently debating the future.
“I intend to at least try to change that trajectory,” added Wan Saiful, who leaves IDEAS tomorrow.
IDEAS is an independent policy think tank he co-founded in 2009 after returning from Britain where he spent 18 years being involved in the British political system and working with Social Enterprise London, the Conservative Party’s Research Department and the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit think tank.
The Northumbria University and Middlesex University alumnus was also a candidate for the Conservative Party in the 2007 local elections in Luton, England.
Wan Saiful’s involvement with PAS began in 1992 and he became its life-long member in 1997.
In recent times, he has been critical of PAS and often criticises the Islamist party for its conservative ideology.