Updated 16 April 2009, 4.31pm
PETALING JAYA, 16 April 2009: Another by-election is in the offing after former Penang Deputy Chief Minister (DCM) 1 and Penanti assemblyperson Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin quit his seat today.
Fairus “This decision is the best for all parties,” Fairus said in a press statement issued through the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) information bureau.
His resignation as assemblyperson, effective today, follows his stepping down from the DCM 1 post on 8 April over his alleged non-performance in public office and corruption allegations. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has completed investigations on his suspected links to illegal quarrying activities and may press charges soon.
Fairus, 33, said he decided to quit his seat in the interest of his party, PKR, and his Penanti constituents. He said he wanted to further his studies and spend more time with his family.
“This space will also allow me to focus on clearing my name from all the allegations that have been thrown against me.
“To voters and my Penanti constituents, I wish to record my thanks for their love and support while I was assembly[person].
“This decision is the best for all parties, for PKR, for the struggle, and for the leadership of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in enacting truth and justice,” Fairus said in his statement.
A by-election must be called within 60 days of the seat being vacated. This would be the sixth by-election since the March 2008 general election.
Last year, Fairus, then an unknown, beat the Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Abdul Jalil Abdul Majib by a 2,219 vote majority.
Penanti is one of three state seats within the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency, which is held by PKR de-facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, after he contested there in a by-election on 26 Aug last year.
That Mohammad Fairus would quit his seat and force a by-election has been the subject of speculation for some time after delays by the DAP-led Penang state government in announcing a replacement for the DCM 1 post, which has been reserved for a PKR assemblyperson.
There are two other possible candidates for DCM 1: state executive councillor and Batu Maung assemblyperson Abdul Malik Abdul Kassim, and Sungai Bakap assemblyperson Maktar Shapee. But Anwar’s indecisiveness in choosing between the two had led to talk of holding a by-election to choose a new candidate for the post.
Meanwhile, Fairus, in an exclusive interview carried in today’s edition of Nanyang Siang Pau, had threatened to expose the party and Penang’s state government’s secrets if PKR did not clear his name within the next two weeks.
He claimed that the secrets are related to the Pakatan Rakyat (PR)’s internal workings, “has far-reaching consequences”, and that was the reason no party action has been taken against him yet.
In addition, he said he was unhappy that the party leaders had defended attacks against Selangor executive councillor Elizabeth Wong and former Kedah executive council member V Arumugam, but not him.
“They are just exco members; I’m not just an exco, but a deputy chief minister as well, and yet they (PKR) didn’t help me out, because I was framed by my own party members!” said Fairus in the interview, which took place in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
He also reiterated his claim that he is a victim of the party’s internal conspiracy: “I’m innocent! They know what I can still do! Don’t force me!”
Mohammad Fairus’ decision to resign has drawn immediate flak, with Kedah Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang calling the impending by-election in Penanti “a complete waste of taxpayers’ money and time”.
“The reasons given out by him [Mohammad Fairus] for his resignation, in particular to further his studies and to spend more time with his family, are totally unacceptable,” said Tan, who added that by-elections should only be held in the event an assemblyperson dies, or is ill, rendering him or her unfit to discharge duties.
“We hope that the Election Commission would look into this matter seriously and take the appropriate steps to propose amendments to existing laws so as to penalise such assembly[persons] in future,” he said in a statement.
Tan also hit out at PKR, saying the party should not field a candidate in the upcoming by-election, and should allow either a DAP or PAS candidate to stand instead.