Nibong Tebal MP quits PKR (Updated)
KUALA LUMPUR: Nibong Tebal Member of Parliament Tan Tee Beng on Monday morning announced he has quit PKR and would remain an independent MP.
Tan, who last week faced the PKR disciplinary board on charges of openly criticising Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, said he was quitting all party posts immediately.
In February, Bayan Baru MP Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim also quit PKR citing, among other reasons, dissatisfaction with Chief Minister Lim’s leadership of the state.
Tan's press conference on Monday was arranged by Kulim-Bandar Baru MP Zulkifli Noordin, which led to speculation that he too was quitting PKR to join Umno, just hours after former Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin did the same.
Zulkifli was facing disciplinary action for lodging a police report against PAS’ Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, and has accused “little pharaohs” within the party of trying to kick him out.
He had earlier said that PKR vice-president Azmin Ali, strategic director Tian Chua and political bureau member Zaid Ibrahim had already called for his sacking, adding that even party adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had labelled him as an “extremist.”
Ironically, he demanded that the disciplinary committee comprise only Muslims as it was related to the controversy related to the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims.
Zulkifli’s friction with the party mostly revolved around his hardline Islamic stance. In 2008, he led a group of protestors to storm a forum discussing Islamic issues, forcing police to request the peaceful dialogue be called off to prevent violence.
No arrests were made.
On Sunday, Fairus quit PKR, saying the stance taken by PKR and Pakatan Rakyat over the “Allah” issue had made him lose confidence in the party’s leadership.
He denied it had anything to with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission clearing him of graft charges over illegal sand quarrying activities in Penang.
Fairus had quit as Penanti assemblyman and DCM I last year.
Also on Monday, news portal The Malaysian Insider reported that former PKR secretary-general Datuk Salehuddin Hashim has quit the party.
Salehuddin had quit his post earlier this year.
On whether he would join another party, possibly Umno, Salehuddin only said that “he was a politician who has retired,” The Malaysian Insider said.
Last week, 77 PKR Youth members resigned from Anwar’s stronghold in Permatang Pauh to join Umno. Among them were the Guar Jering branch deputy Youth chief Fakhrul Che Umar and treasurer Hesabudin Md Isa.
Bernama reported Tan as saying that he regretted the attitude of the PKR leadership that was willing to sacrifice the integrity and principles of the party purely to ensure that their aspirations were achieved.
"In fact, they are willing to 'close their eyes' to the problem faced by the Penang PKR due to (Penang Chief Minister) Lim Guan Eng's arrogance.
"I don't understand why the Penang PKR leadership is so subservient to Lim to the extent that it is willing to cover up all his weaknesses," he said, reading a five-page statement at a press conference, here Monday.
Tan, who also announced that he was resigning from all posts in the party and becoming an Independent Member of Parliament, said that he was not prepared to bow to Lim's dictatorial attitude and work style because the DAP secretary-general's arrogance was excessive and he treated the PKR elected representatives badly.
"He likes to politicise petty issues and totally cannot accept criticisms and tries to turn the Penang government into his family property.
"Unfortunately, many choose to keep quiet and become 'yes men', no one dares to join me in stating the truth," said Tan, who was accompanied by his staunch supporter, Datuk Salahuddin Hashim, the former PKR secretary-general.
Tan also plans to take legal action against Lim, the Member of Parliament for Jelutong Jeff Ooi and Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P. Ramasamy who said that Tan was interfering in the award of open tenders.
"I had taken the initiative to be present at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office to lodge a report on the slander. I believe that is sufficient to prove to the people of my transparency.
"On the other hand, Jeff Ooi's and Ramasamy's cowardice in refusing to be present at the MACC office shows their true colour to the people. Their dirty tactics were meant to assassinate my character," he said.
Tan said the decision to leave the party was also due to the absence of a specific channel in the PKR to attend to problems and what had transpired showed that the party leadership did not tolerate criticism.
"They not only failed to resolve problems, they imposed disciplinary action against me without investigating the complaints that I had made. In fact, they warned me not to criticise openly. This is most unfair," he said.
He said the PKR and the Pakatan Rakyat (Opposition Pact) would not bring any changes like they promised, and he regretted that no clear action was taken by PKR adviser and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to address the internal problems faced by the PKR and the opposition pact.
Although he had now become an Independent Member of Parliament without siding any party, Tan hoped he could prove to the people of Nibong Tebal that his action would bring them benefits.
"The people should not become victims of political differences. I'm not prepared to see the people of Nibong Tebal being deprived of development and allow their aspirations to be ignored," he said.
He also requested the federal government to accord fair and equitable treatment by channelling development allocations to his constituency so that he could discharge his duty more effectively and efficiently to assist the people who were in dire need.
Meanwhile, Salahuddin said he expected more than 10 elected representatives from the PKR to leave the party after this, but declined further comment.
On Feb 12, Bayan Baru Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim announced that he was leaving the PKR with immediate effect as he was disappointed with Lim's leadership as well as the PKR's struggles in the Opposition Pact.