Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh says it would be wrong for PKR or Pakatan Harapan (PH) to accept support from Nazri Aziz in the Port Dickson by-election as the Umno leader is only seeking a way to return to government.
- Ramkarpal said PH and PKR would be disillusioning voters if they accepted Nazri’s support.
- Umno wants to work with any party that can help it to get back into government
In a statement, Ramkarpal who is chairman of DAP’s national legal bureau said it was well known that Nazri was a vocal critic of PH during his time in the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.
“He has only changed his stance now that he’s not (in government),” he added. “There can be no doubt that Nazri is an opportunist.
“Why not accept (former prime minister) Najib Razak as part of the campaign as well if he was to offer his support?”
Ramkarpal said PH and PKR would be disillusioning voters if they accepted Nazri’s support.
“They voted in a new government. They don’t want people like Nazri anywhere near that new government,” he said.
He added that Anwar Ibrahim himself would be doing the people a “great disservice” by accepting Nazri as part of his campaign and warned that it could cause a drop in support.
Nazri, who was tourism and culture minister under BN, has openly expressed his support for Anwar in the latter’s bid to make a parliamentary comeback.
The Padang Rengas MP says he will campaign for Anwar in the coming Port Dickson by-election.
“I’m serious,” he said to Malaysiakini when asked if he was joking.
Asked why he wanted to campaign for Anwar, Nazri said it is what is best for Umno in order for the party to get back into government.
“I don’t foresee Umno being in government in the near future but there is some common thinking among Umno MPs that we should come back into government as early as possible.
“The only way to do that is to work with PKR […] so we should show some goodwill […] if we want to form the government, let Anwar win,” he said.
Nazri also rebutted Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan who said the party would fight to the death against Anwar in Port Dickson.
Nazri opined this was not an Umno decision and that Mohamad was “not an MP and does not know what we MPs are planning.”
He also said that Umno could not win the seat and thus should let PKR carry out its plan to change the seat’s MP.
He believes his party should stay out of the Port Dickson by-election and not contest against Anwar.
He said it would be unwise for Umno to sour ties with Anwar and PKR by contesting in the seat, as the party is currently the biggest party in the ruling PH coalition.
He revealed that Umno contesting in Port Dickson would also ruin a purported plan by Umno MPs to try and get back into government by forming an alliance with any party capable of getting them there.
“I want to do what is best for Umno. I want you to know that among Umno MPs, we previously had a meeting after GE14 and we agreed that Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will act on our behalf and negotiate with any party that can enable Umno to get back into government as soon as possible,” Nazri told the Malay Mail.
He disclosed that the “majority of Umno MPs” had signed a statutory declaration (SD) empowering Zahid to negotiate with other political parties outside of BN, including PH parties and PAS to once again assume federal power.
“This signing, decision was before the Umno party election. We agreed that Zahid has the authority and he has been tasked with the responsibility.
“I signed the SD, and there is no time frame for Zahid to act on it, open-ended, he may negotiate on behalf of Umno,” Nazri explained.
Since PKR is the biggest party, Umno would do well to show a gesture of “goodwill” by not contesting the Port Dickson by-election, he added.
“Fighting Anwar ‘to the death’ is not a form of goodwill. Even if Umno wins the seat, we will still be in the Opposition, nothing will change.
“Mat Hassan doesn’t know about the SDs, he is not an MP and wasn’t part of the discussion,” Nazri said.
He added that the Umno deputy president’s remarks were likely a personal remark and not indicative of the party’s stand on the matter.
Nazri pointed out that even MIC and PAS have backed out from contesting.
“Umno must look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves if even PAS is not contesting, they know what it means to show some goodwill,” he said.
Nazri added he would still campaign for Anwar even if Umno contested the seat as he wanted to do what was “best for Umno, not for individual interests.”
“I will still campaign for Anwar but this is still speculative (that Umno will contest),” he said.
He also said he was prepared to face disciplinary action for his stance.
Nazri said PKR was the party that the people wanted in power as evident by the past three by-elections.
“There have been three by-elections. MCA, PAS and Umno lost badly, the people did not budge and still rejected those who fought against PKR (and Pakatan Harapan).
“So you have to be close to the people and they want to give PKR a chance.”
He also said that forming coalitions was not strange and that this was what the second prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein did when he transformed the Alliance into BN and offered to bring all opposition parties into the fold.
“Razak was a wise, courageous leader. We should be like him,” he said.
Another Umno leader and former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Shahidan Kassim, today has also thrown in his support for Anwar
Shahidan said Anwar was known to them compared to many other leaders in the present PH government.
“If you don’t want Anwar then there would be Mukhriz (Mahathir), Azmin (Ali) or someone else from PH who would be the prime minister after Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” Shahidan told FMT.
“At least with Anwar, we know him.”
Shahidan said while he is an Umno member, he has a different view on the Port Dickson by-election.
“Here the situation is different. We are fighting to stop Anwar from becoming the next prime minister. For what? If we stop Anwar from becoming the prime minister, another person from PH will become the prime minister.
“If you don’t want Anwar to become the next prime minister after Mahathir, there will be someone else from PH. It makes no difference,” he said.
He said opposition parties had to be “realistic” and think again before contesting in Port Dickson.
“Why contest in an area we cannot win?” he asked.
However, Umno supreme council member Lokman Noor Adam says Umno would not support Anwar as he is still criticising the party’s leaders.
“Until now, Anwar is still attacking Umno leaders, there is no reason to back Anwar,” he told FMT.
On Nazri supporting Anwar, Lokman said the former had been consistent in backing the current government and no disciplinary action had been taken on him.
“Why take action against Nazri now when he has been supporting (Prime Minister Dr) Mahathir Mohamad which is worse than supporting Anwar,” said Lokman
“I don’t see any reason for Umno to take action,” he said, adding that this is his personal opinion.
Lokman also hopes Umno would propose former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar Mohamad Hasan, who is the party’s deputy president, as its candidate in Port Dickson.
“He has a clean record. He would be the best candidate to contest against Anwar,” he said.
Mohamad has declined to comment on Nazri’s support for Anwar and also on the by-election as Umno has not decided if it would take part.
Meanwhile, Kinabatangan MP Bung Moktar Radin has denied knowledge of any plan among Umno members to work with PKR or Anwar.
He claimed he did not know what Nazri was talking about when he referred to plans being made by MPs from Umno.
Bung Moktar, who is a member of Umno’s Supreme Council, said there had been no negotiations with PKR, adding that the only plan he knew about was to find ways to strengthen Umno.
He said it would be wrong for Nazri as an Umno division chief to campaign for another party.
However, he also said Umno was open to working with any party, including PKR and Anwar, whom he described as a “great leader”.
“I know Anwar very well and it will be good for the country if he becomes prime minister. If he is willing to work with us, we are willing to work with him, but so far there is no plan.”
Another Umno member, Kepala Batas MP Reezal Naina Merican, said all party members should abide by the decision to be made by the party’s leadership.
“Everyone has his opinion,” he said. “Nazri has his opinion, and it may not be the same as the party’s.”
He spoke of internal problems in PKR and said there was a need to wait for politics in the country to stabilise before Umno could consider working with Anwar’s party.
“Surely Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his deputy, Mohamad, know the best direction for the party to take,” he added.
Other Umno MPs approached by reporters did not elaborate on Nazri’s SD claim.
“I cannot comment on this. These things are not meant to be shared with the public. It is up to the leadership to decide what’s best for the party,” Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa was quoted as saying.
This sentiment was shared by Pontian MP Ahmad Maslan, who added: “But I feel that Umno should convene a leadership meeting as soon as possible and decide whether or not to contest the Port Dickson seat, just like PAS did…they decided and with that, the debate for them ended there.”