Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Straight fight

KUALA KUBU BARU: Sunday’s Hulu Selangor by-election is now a straight fight between Barisan Nasional and Parti Keadilan Rakyat after both Independent candidates pulled out yesterday.

The Independents — businessman V.S. Chandran, 56, and self-employed Johan Mat Diah, 31 — withdrew at 1.30pm and 9pm respectively. Chandran threw his support behind Barisan Nasional, which he contended would benefit from the 8,000 to 10,000 voters whom he supposedly commanded.“I was protesting the choice of MIC information chief P. Kamalanathan as candidate.

I am withdrawing after consulting friends,” Chandran told a press conference here.Both Johan and Chandran, a former No. 2 in Hulu Selangor MIC division, will lose their RM10,000 deposits. Johan submitted his withdrawal forms to returning officer Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan at the district office last night. He declinedto speak to the press.Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, when contacted, said the deposits would be refunded if the candidates had withdrawn before 10am on nomination day. The remaining candidates are BN’s Kamalanathan and Datuk Zaid Ibrahim of PKR.

Also, PKR was scrambling at press time to defuse the impact of the defection of a local party strongman to Umno.A few hours before Chandran addressed the press, Hulu Selangor PKR treasurer and neurosurgeon Datuk Dr Halili Rahmat announced in Petaling Jaya his defection to Umno.The 58-year-old personal doctor to PKR adviser Datuk Seri AnwarIbrahim since 1994 attributed his decision, a long-time coming, to PKR’s deviation from its struggle.Dr Halili said a narrow-minded and leftist group now controlled the party, which he claimed had left most Malays and the people disconcerted.

He alleged that PKR was more interested in grabbing power andnot in the wellbeing of the people.“At the same time, I see the government under the leadership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak is sincere in bringing political changes to Umno and Barisan Nasional and this has made me want to fight for the people by giving my full support to him and other government leaders,” he told a press conference.With him was Datuk Salehuddin Hashim, who resigned as party secretary-general in January and quit the party last month. Dr Halili, who was in PKR’s shortlistof three candidates for Hulu Selangor, said he could sense that his departure would be linked to the candidacy.“I had never asked or offered myself to be the candidate,” he said. Neither did he receive offers.

“I am also making this statement now, during the Hulu Selangor by-election,because I don’t want PKR to use my name to fish for votes.”
He said his family and villagers accepted his decision. When asked if he had informed the top leadership, namely Anwar, who was his senior at Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK), of his decision, Dr Halili replied: “No. Why should I? Idon’t have to.”Asked if he had been offered a position or contract to defect to Umno, Dr Halili jokingly said that he was a brain surgeon and maybe now they would allow him to operate on other parts of the body.

Dr Halili, who contested in the 1999 and the 2004 general elections in the Hulu Selangor parliamentary and Batang Kali state seats, criticised the PKR leadership for not helping former Hulu Selangor member of parliament Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad run the constituency when he was suffering from brain tumour.Zainal Abidin, whose death on March 25 paved the way for the country’s 10th by-election since the 2008 general election, had won in 2008 by 198 votes.PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said although Dr Halili previously held the position of division treasurer, he had not been active in party activities for some time now.Saifuddin said he wished Dr Halili all the best and that there was no badblood between him and the latter as they had been friends for more than10 years.When asked if Dr Halili’s resignation was due to the fact that he was not fielded in Hulu Selangor, Saifuddin said: “I do not think this is the reason.

He was considered because he had contested in 1999 and 2004. It’s normal party practice and when the party decided to field Zaid, he was there and he even gave pointers on his experiences campaigning there.”He said Dr Halili’s resignation was unexpected as he had never showedany signs that he was unsatisfied with PKR. PKR vice-president Azmin Ali saidit was Dr Halili’s decision and that the party would move on.“This will not affect us. We will explain to the voters in Hulu Selangorabout the situation.”Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said members were leaving the party because Anwar practised favouritism.

Source: NST Online (April 20, 2010)

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