PKR: Fairus quits Penanti seat
April 16, 2009
Former Penang Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin today has resigned as the state representative for Penanti. According to the embattled politician who is under probe for corruption, he is quitting in the interest of his party, PKR.
“After giving due consideration and in the interest of the people, I have decided for the sake of protecting PKR to resign as the Penanti state representative effective today,” he said in a statement. He added that he was planning to pursue his education and wanted to spend more time with his family.
“The resignation will also allow me the space to clear my name from the various allegations hurled against me,” he said. He also expressed his gratitude to the Penanti constituents for their support.
No confirmation yet from Fairus
The press statement was issued by PKR’s information bureau, but there is no confirmation from Mohammad Fairus himself as he could not be contacted. However, Penang legislative assembly speaker Abdul Halim Hussain confirmed receiving Mohammad Fairus’ resignation letter.
In a hastily arranged press conference at his office this afternoon, Abdul Halim said that he received the resignation letter earlier today. He said that all necessary arrangements were being made for a by-election.
As recent as late yesterday, Mohammad Fairus told Nanyang Siang Pau that he was exploring a number of options including switching parties or becoming an independent in addition to resigning. He claimed that the corruption allegations were made by his party colleagues who were out to kill his political career and was bitter that top party leaders are not standing by him.
In the interview with the Chinese daily, he gave PKR two weeks to clear his name, or he would otherwise reveal dirt involving the party.
Azmin: We’re ready for by-election
Mohammad Fairus, 33, has been under spotlight for several months over his alleged corrupt practices. He had earlier resigned from his position as the deputy chief minister (1) and state exco member on April 8 after he was embroiled in a graft allegation linking to illegal quarry operations in the Penang mainland.
His resignation today as the state representative would necessitate a by-election for the state seat in the next 60 days. The Penanti seat is under the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat, held by PKR’s leader Anwar Ibrahim.
“The seat is now vacant and the Election Commission will decide the date to conduct the by-election which has to be called within 60 days,” PKR vice-president Azmin Ali. Azmin said the party would prepare for victory in the upcoming poll.
“We want to retain the seat and win with a bigger majority,” he told AFP.
Penang PKR deputy chief likely candidate
A Penanti by-election will not be a poll just to choose the next state assemblyperson but also the new deputy chief minister I – one of the two deputies which has been set aside for PKR.
Penang PKR deputy chief and Anwar’s trusted lieutenant Dr Mansor Othman is a likely candidate for Penanti, which had 14,471 registered voters. In the Permatang Pauh by-election last August, PKR won Penanti – one of the three state seats in the parliamentary constituency – with a majority of 3,276.
Previously the party top leadership has opted to wait for the outcome of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation on Mohammad Fairus before deciding his replacement in Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s cabinet.
PKR sources said Anwar, the parliamentary opposition leader, has however decided to go ahead with a by-election in Penanti by asking Mohammad Fairus to quit after Lim exerted pressure for a quick decision on the matter. It now appear that MACC is in no hurry to charge Mohammad Fairus despite strong speculations that it would do so this week.
PKR has three executive councillor slots in the Pakatan state government. Batu Maung assemblyperson Abdul Malik Abul Kassim and Bukit Tambun assemblyperson Law Choo Kiang are the other two PKR representatives in the state cabinet.It first appeared Abdul Malik was to be promoted to take over the coveted DCM 1 post, while his party colleague, Sungai Bakap assemblyperson Maktar Shapee, 60, will fill the exco seat which he is vacating.
Anwar does not have much choice. Besides Mohammad Fairus, there are only two Malay-elected representatives among PKR’s nine state representatives.
Anwar has other plans. However, Anwar’s prolonged delay in naming any of them heightened speculations that he had other plans, much against the wishes of the DAP-led state government. It is learned that the state government leadership preferred media-friendly Abdul Malik (right), 54, who is currently in charge of domestic trade, consumer affairs and Islamic religious affairs, as Lim’s deputy.
However, rumours within PKR circle on Abdul Malik’s alleged involvement in the ousting of Mohammad Fairus apparently had not gone down well with Anwar, who wanted a strong political personality to assume the hot seat.
Yesterday, Lim expressed disappointment over Anwar’s delay in naming PKR’s nominees for both the DCM 1 and exco posts. A by-election in Penanti will allow Anwar to pick his own men to fill the two posts. For the PKR supremo, Mansor (left), who is the deputy chief of PKR’s election machinery, fits the bill perfectly for the post of deputy chief minister.
“Anwar believes that, unlike (Mohammad) Fairus, Dr Mansor can’t be bullied around by rivals within PKR,” a top state leader told Malaysiakini.
Meanwhile, Penang CM Lim Guan Eng, who is in Singapore on an official visit, said he was not aware of Fairus’ resignation. “I don’t know anything about this resignation. If you (reporters) want to know, please ask Anwar,” said Lim through his press secretary.