PETALING JAYA, 16 Oct 2009: Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has given notice to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) that he will be going on leave for six months effective today.
The former Umno minister, who joined PKR in June 2009 after being sacked by Umno six months earlier, said he would not be attending meetings of the party’s political bureau, of which he is a member, during his leave. He is also a member of the party’s supreme council.
“Lately, there have been reports of political friction [among] the PKR leadership with regards to Sabah and Sarawak and that I was in some way involved. I wish to reiterate that I am not at all involved in the leadership issue of Sabah and Sarawak PKR,” he told a press conference at his residence today.
Zaid said he had accepted invitations from PKR leaders in Sabah and Sarawak to attend Aidilfitri functions and gatherings to meet members. “Similarly, I have also been invited to meet some leaders of Sarawak in Kuching. I see no sinister motive in these invitations,” he said, adding that he would continue to make these visits.
The press conference, which was called for in Zaid’s personal capacity, set tongues wagging this morning. Rumours were passed around that Zaid was quitting PKR. One party insider noted that Zaid was trying to send a subtle message to PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
But Zaid denied he was resigning from the party, saying: “No, I’m not going to quit. I’m here for the long haul.”
To another question, he said he was also not quitting the political bureau. “Resigning would suggest I had a quarrel with the bureau. There is no need to resign,” he said.
“I’m staying away so as not to get distracted [from the work that needs to be done],” he said, referring to the Pakatan Rakyat’s common policy platform that he is working on.
Zaid said he joined PKR because he wanted to put together a common policy platform for PR. “This common policy framework for the coalition … is now in the final stages and I expect to submit the policy framework to the leadership of [PKR, DAP and PAS] next week.”
He added that a lot more work still needed to be done even after the policy was framed. “With the Pakatan Rakyat Convention due in December 2009, I need time to finalise the policy framework which hopefully will be approved …,” he said.
Zais does not aspire to assume leadership roles in PKR
No personal ambition
To a question, Zaid said he wasn’t trying to send any signal to the PKR leadership about what it should or shouldn’t do.
“I have no interest in the internal politics of PKR nor of any of the other parties in Pakatan Rakyat. Neither do I aspire to assume a leadership role in PKR. I made this very clear to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when I joined the party.”
Zaid said what he wanted was to facilitate the creation of a “strong, credible and united opposition”.
“We must move beyond the BN bashing and sloganeering stage. Only clearly defined policies and a united [PR] leadership can convince Malaysians that we are a suitable choice for the rakyat.”
He said even if the PR could not become the federal government, what was needed was a strong opposition in order for democracy to thrive, adding that he wanted to see the three PR component parties cooperating towards that end.
On another matter, Zaid said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should instruct the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to complete its investigations into Zaid and to publicly disclose its findings.
“I am prepared to face the charges if there is evidence of corrupt practice [on my part while I was in Umno],” he said.
Zaid was referring to a 13 Oct 2009 Utusan Malaysia report, which quoted Najib as saying the opposition had no business describing the BN’s win in Bagan Pinang as an endorsement of money politics because of Tan Sri Isa Samad‘s past. Najib had said that the opposition was hypocritical because Zaid was also found guilty of money politics by the Umno disciplinary tribunal.
Zaid said that when he was made minister in Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s cabinet, he asked the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), which is now the MACC, to investigate Umno’s findings of money politics against him.
“I believe I was framed by Umno and found the findings by the tribunal flawed, where basic rules of evidence were ignored,” he said.
“I believe my request was acted upon by the ACA and they commenced investigations. I have not heard of the findings till today,” Zaid added.
He said Najib should not “take jibes” at him but should be more “interested in the truth”.
Zaid added that if the MACC were to find him to be innocent, then Najib should refrain from making similar statements about him in the future.
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