By Debra Chong
SERENDAH, April 14 – PKR has named Datuk Zaid Ibrahim as its choice for the April 25 by-election for Hulu Selangor in an effort to restore faith in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and maintain its voice in parliament after losing four lawmakers recently.
The opposition bloc’s unprecedented 82-seat win in Election 2008 broke Barisan Nasional’s (BN) traditional two-thirds stranglehold in the Dewan Rakyat, but is now barely holding that edge over the ruling coalition.
Public confidence in the PKR-PAS-DAP partnership plunged in the last two months after three PKR parliamentarians quit the party and another was sacked. The four are seen as allies to the ruling government, further dimming PR’s plans to takeover Putrajaya.
But Zaid may just be the pill Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim needs to boost public faith in PR once more.
Anwar admitted as much in his speech last night here, just before announcing PKR would be fielding the outspoken ex-law minister, to regain strength in Parliament.
“We want to show we are serious,” he stressed, in a bid to convince the crowd thronging the community hall here that the Kelantan-born was an excellent choice to become the “voice” of Hulu Selangor.
PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution noted that when choosing a leader, two qualities were needed: “One, must be elok (good); and two, must be pandai (intelligent).”
“Insya Allah (God willing), our candidate tonight will be both elok and pandai,” he quipped.
Fuziah Salleh, PKR’s Wanita chief and elections strategy chief pushed the alliance’s two-pronged campaign theme to a packed hall here last night — “Harapan Baru (New Hope)” and “Selamatkan Malaysia (Save Malaysia)”.
“Our victory here and our victory in Sibu will bring us closer to Putrajaya,” she cried, stirring the hall packed with PR supporters into a frenzy.
A lawyer-turned-politician, Zaid’s star has been rising ever since he quit his ministerial post in late 2008 to protest the ISA arrest of Selangor executive councillor Teresa Kok, blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin and journalist Tan Hoon Cheng.
He was the Kota Bharu MP for one-term from 2004 but was dropped by Umno in Election 2008. He was then made a senator and appointed as de facto law minister by then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Zaid edged a few local-born aspirants in the race to be PKR’s candidate for the seat the party won by 198 votes in Election 2008 to end MIC deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel’s 18-years as MP there.
The MIC has named Palanivel as their choice to regain the seat the size of Malacca but BN is also considering other names. The coalition will name their candidate on April 15, two days before nomination day.