By Neville SpykermanSHAH ALAM, April 28 — PKR could lose up to five more lawmakers who are disgruntled with the party and are waiting for the right moment to announce their resignations, said Datuk Sallehuddin Hashim (picture).
The party has already lost nine lawmakers, including four MPs, in the past two years and suffered another blow last Sunday when it failed to retain the Hulu Selangor parliamentary constituency in a by-election. It now has 26 MPs.
“Those MPs and state assemblymen, who had been contemplating leaving the party, have all decided but are waiting for the right time to do so in view of their particular beef.” the former PKR secretary-general told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.
He said the five each had his own “trigger-point”, when asked if Sunday’s Hulu Selangor by-election defeat would be a catalyst for more defections from the party.
“If by ‘defections’ you mean elected representatives leaving the party, the expected loss of Hulu Selangor is an insignificant event.”
Sallehuddin pointed out that ’desertions’ among leader in the grassroots has been continuous since the early days of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s second sodomy court hearings.
He said these leaders are activists that form the bulk of Anwaristas, who is 1999 formed Parti Keadilan — the forerunner of PKR.
He added that party elections in November will see more significant desertions.
According Sallehuddin the desertions will be “engineered” by a small group of leaders whom Anwar is beholden to for support in his quest for Putrajaya and his personal legal problems.
“These desertions are reflective of the grassroots desire to keep the original struggle rather than the narrow Anwar-centric path. Anwar’s neediness is turning them off.”
Apart from the lawmakers who all became independent, five state assemblymen — two each from Perak and Kedah, and one from Selangor — are also independents. A number of grassroots leaders have also left the party or joined Umno.
Sallehuddin who quite last January was seen at many of the press conferences called by former party members to announce their resignations.
The latest was on April 19, when Hulu Selangor PKR treasurer Dr Halili Rahmat announced his defection to Umno on the grounds that he had lost faith in the opposition party
Selangor PKR chief Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim yesterday said those wanting to leave the party are welcome to go.
“I would prefer for them to defect now rather than later.” said the Selangor mentri besar, who was asked whether more defections were expected following the outcome of Sunday’s by election where Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was defeated by MIC’s P. Kamalanathan.
Khalid pointed out that PKR was not crumbling and managed to hold its own against the BN onslaught during campaigning.
He pointed out that ‘defections’ was common among all parties, where ordinary members leave or joined other parties, and not limited just to PKR.
His political secretary Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad pointed out that Hulu Selangor was not the first by-election that PKR had lost and the party was not weaker just because of it.
“We have been losing by-elections all along but win or lose, genuine leaders will stay with the party.” said the Seri Setia state lawmaker.