January 30, 2010
Zahrain: I have the Numbers
Disgruntled PKR MP Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohd Hashim has reportedly offered enough Pakatan Rakyat colleagues to Barisan Nasional as to enable their full legislative control of Parliament, but his colleagues dispute he has such numbers.
Such a majority allows the government to pass any law despite opposition from their rivals. BN needs 11 more seats in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat for the psychological majority, and it is learnt that Independent Pasir Mas MP Datuk Ibrahim Ali or even Kulim Bandar Baharu MP Zulkifli Noordin is expected to join the group if the defection happens.
Zulkifli has supported Zahrain in his diatribe against Lim.“I have heard that [there are] three or four who want to leave the party. BN really wants him, too,” Penang PKR chairman Dr Mansor Othman told The Malaysian Insider, referring to his predecessor whom he replaced after winning the Penanti seat and being made deputy chief minister last year.
Zahrain was not available for comments despite several attempts to reach him. He had previously said it was mere speculation that he would leave PKR for former party UMNO or the newly set-up Parti Cinta Malaysia.
Several other PKR and DAP leaders confirmed they have heard news that Zahrain was now gathering allies to make the jump.
“I don’t think he has the numbers. From what I know, it’s just three of them,” a senior DAP leader told The Malaysian Insider. Pakatan Rakyat now has 82 MPs, of which 31 are from PKR including the four from Penang: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (Permatang Pauh), Tan Tee Beng (Nibong Tebal), Mohd Yusmadi Yusoff (Balik Pulau) and Zahrain.
Mansor said he was not sure if the MPs are from Penang, other states, or they included those from allies DAP and PAS. “I don’t really know… All I know is that there are some MPs who have expressed an intention to leave the party,” he added.
Speculation that Zahrain could be leaving peaked again when he restarted a simmering feud with Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng this week, by calling the DAP leader “a dictator, a chauvinist and communist-minded” and earning brickbats from party colleagues and allies.
He had previously criticised Lim when former Penanti assemblyman and deputy chief minister, Mohamed Fairus Khairuddin quit his post and seat last year.
Mansor said that while the bad blood between Zahrain and Lim was long-standing, news that the PKR leader wanted to quit began very recently and added the matter would be brought up at the party’s special supreme council meeting tomorrow.
The Malaysian Insider understands that the issue will also be discussed at the PR joint leadership council meeting due to take place after tomorrow’s PKR meeting.
DAP parliamentary leader and representative at the PR meeting, Lim Kit Siang, today called for the formation of a disciplinary committee to discuss the cases of intransigence within the pact, saying these cases have dented the coalition’s recent hard-won gains.
Mansor yesterday lamented Zahrain’s statement, which was critical of Lim. “The words were uncalled for and I regret his statement. That is certainly not the way to address our fellow partners in PR,” he said and declined to elaborate further.
The PKR leader said the party will issue a statement on Zahrain’s criticisms against Lim, but coalition insiders believe Anwar might not take action after having failed to admonish his fellow Penangite last year.
Anwar has also been seen as soft on Zulkifli, who has ignored a party gag order by continuing to make comments on the “Allah” issue.