Zaid: I don’t think anyone wants me now

By Clara Chooi, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 — Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, after causing an uproar with his sudden withdrawal from the PKR deputy presidential race this morning, has now pledged to shun the spotlight from now on, lamenting that he was no longer wanted by party leaders.

“I don’t think anyone wants me now,” the dejected-sounding Zaid told The Malaysian Insider this morning.

But the former Umno minister maintained that he would stay on as a PKR member despite his decision to quit the deputy presidential race.

“I will stay on. But that is all I can do for now,” he said.

Zaid (picture), once at the forefront of local politics, created headlines last year when he quit his ministerial post under the Abdullah administration, citing his disagreement with the government’s detention of DAP leader Teresa Kok, blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin and journalist Tan Hoon Cheng under the Internal Security Act.

He was later booted out from Umno and joined PKR shortly after, a move that was said to have helped boost the party’s credibility which has suffered greatly after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s September 16 takeover plan flopped.

Zaid was also PKR’s candidate in the Hulu Selangor by-election last April but failed to defend the federal seat.

As the Pakatan Rakyat co-ordinator, he was also at the forefront of drafting the coalition’s common policy platform.

He was making his way up the party ranks by entering the party’s deputy presidential race but dropped a bombshell this morning when he announced that he had decided to pull out from the fractious three-cornered race, blaming the party leadership for condoning electoral fraud and election malpractices.

He also resigned from all party posts, including his positions as PKR Federal Territories chief, PKR Wangsa Maju division chief and PKR political bureau member.

Amid the uproar his announcement had caused, Zaid maintained today that he would not back down from his decision and continued to voice disappointment over the party’s failure to address his concerns.

He also said he would not file an official notice of withdrawal to the party despite a statement from PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail this morning that he had to do so in order to pull out officially from the race.

“Why should I do it? I already made my announcement in my blog. That is good enough. If I do not send the notice, what are they going to do?” he said.

When pointed out that this would mean he was still in the race, Zaid brushed off the notion, reiterating that he failed to see the need to send any letter to the party leadership.

“When I wrote to them about the irregularities in the election contest, did they respond to me? I made my complaints but they did not act on it.

“So why should I reply to them now? They can play it any way they like,” he said.

He added that he had lodged complaints with the party, urging the leadership to step in and stop the fractious polls.

The maverick politician was seen as giving a stiff fight in the ongoing party polls to vice-president Azmin Ali, who is said to enjoy the backing of party de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Zaid and fellow deputy presidential hopeful Mustafa Kamil Ayub had asked for a halt in the party’s first direct elections, citing irregularities including the latest claims that ballot papers were available outside the polling process for possible manipulation of results.

Just yesterday, Saifuddin denied the claims, citing five security features. He, however, did not explain how the ballot papers were made available to outsiders.

“From Day One, I said we should stop it. So it is not like I did not say anything about it. Even if I were ahead in the race, I would still want to stop it. I would never want to win a fight like this,” said Zaid.

He acknowledged that his decision to opt out of the polls would leave his supporters disappointed, saying that he too was disappointed.