Zaid could pave way for MCA defections to PKR

By Leslie Lau, The Malaysian Insider

Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s decision to join PKR is expected to set off a flurry of former MCA officials joining the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) party.

The Malaysian Insider understands a former senator from the Barisan Nasional (BN) party is on the verge of joining.

Also mulling a defection is a former cabinet minister from MCA.

Zaid’s entry into PKR could be the push factor to convince a number of MCA leaders because he is considered a moderate Malay leader widely accepted by the Chinese community.

The former Umno man is also widely seen as someone who brings a more multi-racial approach to the opposition alliance because of his moderate views on Islam and race relations.

MCA has been in turmoil since it lost heavily in last year’s general elections.

Party president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has so far failed to regain the backing of Chinese voters for BN.

According to the party’s own estimates, Chinese support for MCA now stands at just 15 per cent.

This is down from the 30 per cent of Chinese voters who still voted for BN in last March’s elections.

A recent online poll on the party president’s blog also seems to suggest the trend remains the same.

Approximately three in four people who voted in the poll felt the MCA should leave BN.

Ong remains hampered in his efforts to win back support from the Chinese by the community’s negative perception of Umno.

Significant numbers of the Chinese community may baulk at the increasing religiosity and narrow racial views of some of the newly elected leaders in PAS because of concerns about what kind of policies the Islamist party may introduce if PR won federal power.

But the entry into PKR of Zaid, a moderate leader they are more comfortable with, could provide some comfort for the community and make it harder for the MCA and BN to win them back.