Defection prompts Tajol to quit as Perak Umno boss soon

The Malaysian Insider

Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali will quit as Perak Umno chief soon while three Barisan Nasional state reps have hinted at following Datuk Nasarudin Hashim into Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) as discontent grows over Umno’s recent divisional polls, The Malaysian Insider learnt today.

The state Umno is in turmoil now after the Bota state assemblyman repudiated the party to join his Universiti Malaya campus mate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday and revelations by Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin that he is negotiating with the trio to cross over to Pakatan Rakyat.

Among the trio are state representatives within the Larut and Bruas parliamentary constituencies, sources told The Malaysian Insider.

“Tajol Rosli has indicated to the party leadership that he will relinquish his post soon,” a source said today.

Tajol Rosli, who was Perak Menteri Besar before BN lost the state to Pakatan Rakyat in the March 2008 polls, had met with Umno deputy president and deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak yesterday to discuss Nasarudin’s defection.

He alluded to problems within the Parit Umno division that led to the former Parit MP’s decision to quit.

It is learnt that the other state assemblymen mulling their future in Umno voiced out concerns about similar problems within their divisions.

They are also unhappy that the national leadership have ignored their problems and felt that several national leaders are behind moves to oust them from party politics. Politicking and jockeying for key posts have increased since Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s exit plan was brought forward to this March.

Najib has been elected unopposed as Umno’s new president and will have to face a party rife with factional interests and ambitious warlords conspiring for their own interests rather than that of the dominant Malay party that has led the nation since Merdeka.

“Its a zero-sum game. When some lose party positions, they lose everything. The only way up could be through another party,” an Umno leader said, alluding to Nasarudin’s loss in party division elections a few months ago.

The veteran Perak leader has seen his influence diminish when he was moved from the Parit parliament seat constituency to the Bota state seat in the last elections. While he won the state seat, he lost his Felcra chairmanship, a position normally given to an MP.

The Parit Umno deputy chief’s failed challenge for the divisional top post was the last straw, sources added.

Several other divisions are facing similar problems, with the most prominent being Larut Umno’s imbroglio between current chief Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar and challenger Larut MP Datuk Hamzah Zainudin.

Raja Ahmad has charged that Hamzah, who is Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister, is ineligible to contest for the division post due to procedural issues but Tajol Rosli has referred the matter to the party supreme council for a decision. No decision has been made and the division has yet to hold its elections.

Anwar, who is Parliamentary Opposition leader, yesterday also hinted of more cross-overs but Najib has denied it, calling it “rumours”.

Nasarudin’s defection is seen by many as a blow to Najib just weeks before he assumes the party presidency as it reflects a lack of faith in his leadership.

“It’s a blow to Najib as some don’t think he can handle the party well. Nobody will attribute this to Pak Lah as he is already on the way out,” a Umno veteran said.

While Perak Umno is in turmoil, Tajol Rosli maintained yesterday that the party was confident of wresting back the state from the Pakatan Rakyat electoral pact in the next elections.

“We have three years to do it and the BN has put in motion all measures especially to get the votes of the youth,” he said.

Tajol Rosli also said he has yet to meet Nasarudin, who has been avoiding his calls.