(The Malaysian Insider) - Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin will not defend his parliamentary seat in the next general election, saying today he will instead focus on winning back Perak from Barisan Nasional (BN).
The outspoken PAS vice-president, currently Bukit Gantang MP and Pasir Panjang state assemblyman, was appointed as Perak mentri besar when Pakatan Rakyat (PR) won 31 out of the 59 seats in the state assembly back in 2008.
A spate of defections later saw BN taking over Perak, with Umno’s Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir sworn in as mentri besar on February 6, 2009.
“After serving for four years, I thought that I must concentrate my efforts on winning the state. All this time, my efforts and time have been divided between my state and parliamentary seat,” Nizar told The Malaysian Insider.
“If you look at it, Bukit Gantang was not really an election. It was an instant decision, someone passed away, and by the grace of God, I was given the responsibility to defend the seat.
“What I want right (now) is to prioritise, and the priority is on Perak,” he said.
Nizar won the Bukit Gantang by-election on April 7, 2009 where he defeated Umno’s Ismail Saffian and independent candidate Kamarul Ramizu Idris in a landslide victory.
The popular PAS leader denied, however, that his decision to not contest the Bukit Gantang was due to the ongoing controversy over his remarks about the “WWW 1” vehicle registration number that was won by the Johor Sultan in an open tender.
“Frankly, it has nothing to do with it, there is no connection, it’s just prioritising,” Nizar stressed.
Nizar earned the Johor’s palace wrath last month for suggesting the RM520,000 winning bid placed by the state Ruler could be better used to the aid the needy.
He has since apologised and requested an audience with the Sultan of Johor to explain his May 28 remarks that he posted on micro-blogging service Twitter.
Today, Nizar dismissed suggestions that his decision would affect confidence in PR, saying BN would be the most “affected” party in the matter.
“BN will be in a much more difficult decision to face... my decision will mean a greater focus on state, and they will have to step up their game,” Nizar added.
But public anger over BN’s 2009 takeover of Perak appears to have dissipated, with a recent PR poll showing it will win fewer seats in the state now than if snap polls had been called then.
An opinion poll conducted by the state PR shortly after February 2009 found that the coalition would have swept to victory in 40 seats, or with a two-thirds majority in the 59 seat assembly currently controlled by BN with 28 assemblymen and four “friendly” independents.
A similar survey by Perak PR earlier this year showed it would only win 33 seats if polls were held now.