PENANG, Mac 1: As expected, Nibong Tebal MP Tan Tee Beng has decided to quit PKR ahead of disciplinary punishment for lashing out at his party and coalition mates.
Tan, the son of Penang Gerakan leader Tan Gim Hwa, announced on Monday morning that he would leave PKR to stand as an independent lawmaker.
But few of his party colleagues doubt that he will be a BN-friendly Independent, much in the same way as DAP’s Jelapang assemblywoman Hee Yit Foong, with whom he is now frequently compared with.
“Given the out-of-control way in which he has been attacking his own party and coalition, how can we be surprised? But sometimes, you need to get rid of the pus before the wound can heal,” Penang PKR chief Dr Mansor Othman told Harakahdaily.
Guan Eng just the bogeyman
The temperamental Tan also joins PKR compatriots such as Bayan Baru MP Zahrain Mohd Hashim, Behrang assemblyman Jamaluddin Radzi and Changkat Jehring assemblyman Mohd Osman Jailu.
Together with Zahrain, Tan had lashed out at Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, accusing the latter of marginalizing their interests. Their Pakatan colleagues however believe that Zahrain and Tan had already knocked out a deal with Prime Minister Najib Razak to destabilize Guan Eng's administration.
Hugely popular with the majority of Penangites, Guan Eng is now being used by the racists in Umno as a bogeyman and an example of how the position of the Malays could be usurped by the Chinese and Indians if they allowed Pakatan to win at elections.
"It has all the traditional hallmarks of Umno. They are using race and religion to shatter Malaysian society for their own political benefit," PKR strategic director Tian Chua told Harakahdaily.
"But the Penang government is still standing strong and Penangites still fully behind Guan Eng and Pakatan. The people, including the Penang Malays, can see through Tan and Zahrain resigning to avoid disciplinary action. I think it will be extremely hard for either of them to retain their seats in the next election.
Next - Zulkifli, the wishful hero
Another PKR federal lawmaker, Kulim Bandar Bharu MP Zulkifli Noordin is expected to follow in the footsteps of Zahrain and Tee Beng.
Zulkifli is due to face the PKR disciplinary panel on Monday but has already announced that he will not be attending. Zulkifli was hauled up for lodging a police report against PAS MP for Shah Alam Khalid Samad over the Allah issue.
Despite a gag order, he has since lambasted the DAP as a chauvinist Chinese party, appealing to PKR and PAS to dump DAP and join forces with Umno.
“We will be least surprised if Zul is the next. He is trying to force PKR to sack him so that he can appear to be a political martyr - a hero - when he joins Umno, instead of just another turncoat," a PKR insider told Harakahdaily.
"No doubt, he will say he left because of disappointment over the Allah issue and because he realizes now that only Umno can save the Malays and Islam."
Najib pressured by Pakatan's growing success
Troubled by the rousing success of the Pakatan’s recent nationwide Lunar New Year tour including to Sabah, a key state in determining who will control the federal government at the next general election, Najib has clambered back on the Umno bandwagon of racial and religious politicking.
He has tried to steal Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s thunder by luring over defections and is said to have targeted a total of 10 federal lawmakers in order to regain a two-thirds majority at Parliament.
Such an outcome would help him railroad through gerrymandering attempts to re-draw constituencies and make it tougher for the Pakatan to win at the 13th general election, due latest by March 2013.
"I was at Pokok Sena in Kedah over the weekend and there were crowds of 20,000 to 30,000 who came out to cheer for us. It was the same in Selangor and Sabah. Obviously, this has strengthened Najib's resolve to buy over MPs and ADUNs. If Umno were to rely on free and fair elections, Pakatan would be in Putrajaya today itself," Tian said.
Syed Husin’s bombshell
On Sunday, Najib - who is also the Umno president - personally welcomed former PKR deputy chief minister of Penang Fairus Khairuddin into Umno, declaring the crossover as a victory for Umno and the Malay race.
However, the Umno president’s happiness was short-lived as PKR deputy president Syed Husin Ali dropped a bombshell. Syed Husin issued a press statement revealing that Fairus left because Najib had offered a more ‘lucrative’ deal.
“Parti Keadilan Rakyat should be grateful to Allah (SWT) that Fairus Khairuddin has left the party. Since he participated in Penang Government and his departure from that until now, he has always been a liability,” Syed Husin said in the statement.
“Fairus has given racial and religious reasons for leaving Keadilan. How shameful. He, his friends and Allah know best the truth.”
The well-respected Syed Husin also revealed that it was Fairus who had been “performing below par” and he eventually quit his state posts last year due to investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for allegedly receiving bribes from several quarry firms.
“When he left, he demanded that the party cleared all debts on his two luxurious cars and pay him RM15,000 a month for as long as he determined. There was no reason to concede to these demands. Furthermore the party does not have the means to do so,” Syed Husin said.
“In pity of his wife and children, a kind person gave him a ‘job’ for which he was paid RM4000 monthly. He was dissatisfied and continuously attacked the party leadership. Now he has found an Umno leader who can pay him much, much more than this.”