Thursday, May 29, 2008

Malaysian opposition shrugs off defection to ruling party

source: text- AfP via MSN Malaysia News, pix - klpos
Malaysia's opposition on Thursday shrugged off a senior member's defection to the ruling party, which came as a rare victory for embattled Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Ezam Mohamad Nor, a former member of opposition figurehead Anwar Ibrahim's Keadilan party, was welcomed back into the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) on Wednesday.

He had left the party in 1999 after the sacking of Anwar, a one-time deputy premier who spent six years in jail on corruption and sex charges before being freed and storming back onto the political scene.

Ezam, who had served as Anwar's political secretary, quit Keadilan last year reputedly after a power struggle with another top party official.

"Ezam's decision will have little impact on the party. We are on an upward trend now. We have had people who left the party in hard times and we survived," said Keadilan information chief Tian Chua.

"I suppose we must thank him for joining UMNO only after the general election. At any other time it might have had some impact but now it will not stop our momentum," he told AFP.

The three-party opposition alliance dealt a severe blow to the UMNO-led coalition in March 8 general elections, seizing control of five states and a third of parliamentary seats in an unprecedented result.

Anwar has said he is confident of attracting enough defecting lawmakers to topple Abdullah's administration, which has been thrown into crisis by the election drubbing.

"There have been even worse betrayals. I don't think this will affect Anwar that much ... UMNO is a sinking boat," Chua said.

Ezam's return to UMNO was splashed in the government-linked media Thursday, with prominent photographs of him handing his membership registration form to Abdullah.

"No conditions are attached to Ezam's readmission. He does not get any special treatment or privileges. He has also not sought any position. He just wants to serve and struggle for the party," Abdullah reportedly said.

Ezam Ready To Go For Umno Youth Chief Post If There Is Support - PETALING JAYA, May 29 (Bernama) -- Former Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Youth chief, Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor, said he was ready to contest the Umno Youth chief post if his leadership could help raise the status of the Malays as a respected race.
However, he said, being new in the party might not allow him to make such a big decision.
Still, Mohamad Ezam said, he would discuss the matter with other Umno leaders before making decision.
"I have to discuss first with the leadership and with friends. If the post is for party and national interests and in the interest of the Malays, I will seriously consider," he said.
He was asked to comment on the possibility that his entry into Umno was to fill the post to be vacated by current Umno Youth chief, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

Azmin Ali: We're not worried - KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) is not worried about former members joining Umno.
Commenting on the move by Anuar Shaari and Khairul Anuar Ramli, the two former PKR members who joined former PKR Youth chief Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor in submitting their applications to join Umno, vice-president Azmin Ali said they ceased to be PKR members a long time ago."This is irrelevant to me. I don't see this as a big deal as they were no longer party members." He questioned their credibility, saying that some of them were former Umno members who were with PKR, and then left to rejoin Umno."These characters kept on rejoining Umno. It is just a political gimmick," he said. He said the action of the three men was no indication that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto Pakatan Rakyat leader, had failed to get Barisan Nasional leaders to cross over. "The time-frame given was until Sept 16 and we are taking our time to ensure a smooth transition. "In between, if they want to have a sandiwara with non-PKR members, that is their choice. We are busy with our work in strengthening the administration of the five Pakatan states."

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