(Suara Keadilan) – After months of keeping the nation in suspense, former law minister Zaid Ibrahim has decided to join Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s PKR party.
“I’m confident in the party’s cause. I believe I have an opportunity to assist Anwar and PKR,” said Zaid.
“I am ready to help Pakatan become an alternative and viable government that the people can rely on.”
The announcement was made during a press conference at a PKR special congress called to push through iconic reforms aimed at taking the party to the forefront of the political league and helping it to achieve national power together with its coalition allies DAP and PAS.
According to Anwar, Zaid’s entry will be a big boost for the party because “he is known for his bravery in defending human rights and the independence of the judiciary”.
The well-respected lawyer is expected to be made a member of the party’s powerful supreme council and its political bureau.
Zaid had resigned from the cabinet in 2008 to protest the use of the Internal Security Act to arrest three civilians – DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok, blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, and journalist Tan Hoon Cheng.
Three months later, he was sacked from Umno for ostensibly attending functions held by the PKR and DAP.
Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s decision to join PKR is expected to set off a flurry of former MCA officials joining the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) party.
The Malaysian Insider understands a former senator from the Barisan Nasional (BN) party is on the verge of joining.
Also mulling a defection is a former cabinet minister from MCA.
Zaid’s entry into PKR could be the push factor to convince a number of MCA leaders because he is considered a moderate Malay leader widely accepted by the Chinese community.
The former Umno man is also widely seen as someone who brings a more multi-racial approach to the opposition alliance because of his moderate views on Islam and race relations.
MCA has been in turmoil since it lost heavily in last year’s general elections.
Party president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has so far failed to regain the backing of Chinese voters for BN.
According to the party’s own estimates, Chinese support for MCA now stands at just 15 per cent.
This is down from the 30 per cent of Chinese voters who still voted for BN in last March’s elections.
A recent online poll on the party president’s blog also seems to suggest the trend remains the same.
Approximately three in four people who voted in the poll felt the MCA should leave BN.
Ong remains hampered in his efforts to win back support from the Chinese by the community’s negative perception of Umno.
Significant numbers of the Chinese community may baulk at the increasing religiosity and narrow racial views of some of the newly elected leaders in PAS because of concerns about what kind of policies the Islamist party may introduce if PR won federal power.
But the entry into PKR of Zaid, a moderate leader they are more comfortable with, could provide some comfort for the community and make it harder for the MCA and BN to win them back.