Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who leads the independents?

As Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat continue their battle in Parliament, some fundamental questions arise about the growing bench of independent MPs — who leads them and why?

The competition to be the leader among the five independents appear to have narrowed to three, sources say, pointing to Datuk Seri Zahrain Hashim MP for Bayan Baru (picture), Datuk Ibrahim Ali (Pasir Mas) and Zulkifli Noordin (Kulim-Bandar Baharu).

On the very first day of Parliament, ex-PKR Penang chief Zahrain mooted the idea of an “Independent Caucus” and claimed that his suggestion was well received by the other independents, who include Tan Tee Beng (Nibong Tebal) and Mohsin Samsuri (Bagan Serai).

All except the outspoken Ibrahim were from PKR and had turned independent only this year.

However, according to an MP who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Zahrain’s idea did not sit well with all of them.

The source claimed that many of these MPs are “firecrackers” who want to be free, as a non-aligned MP, to air out their views and thoughts.

“If we are independents, why should we have a caucus? That would defeat the whole idea. Actually, the whole caucus thing is very much Zahrain’s idea,” the source told The Malaysian Insider.

The five are expected to throw their support to the ruling BN government which has 137 MPs in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat against PR’s 78 MPs. Another two are from SAPP, which walked out of BN in late 2008.

PR and BN have downplayed or are non-committal on the emergence of this so-called “third force” in Parliament, but Minister in the Prime Minister’s department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz has welcomed the idea of the caucus.

“Their presence will be felt especially when it comes to amending the Constitution… they’ve got an important role,” Nazri had said.

But the source doubted whether the quintet would be able to work together as a cohesive unit, as many of them are “strong-willed characters in nature.”

“If there is even going to be a leader among them, it will be a contest between Zulkifli, Zahrain and Ibrahim. Tee Beng and Mohsin are good people, but they are followers,” he added.

He said all have different motivations as MPs and might not want to be a bloc in Parliament.

“I very much doubt that they are going to be united, because each of them have different agendas going on.

“Take a look at Zulkifli. His stand on some things benefit Pakatan, like Anwar’s qazaf application, but his stand on things like ‘Allah’ are opposite Pakatan’s point of view. He’s got his Islamic agenda,” the source added.

courtesy of Malaysian Insider

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