Tuesday, April 06, 2010
PKR set to field Zaid Ibrahim in Hulu Selangor
According to party insiders, PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim has acknowledged that the former law minister is the best candidate to retain the seat.
“Zaid is a recognisable face. Everyone knows him and he is quite popular with the non-Malays as well. Anwar is aware of this.
“Furthermore, Zaid is seen as a principled politician, since he was willing to resign as minister. People respect him for this,” said the insider.
In 2008, Zaid had objected to the authorities' decision to detain three individuals, an opposition leader, a popular blogger and a journalist, under the Internal Security Act.
When ordered to zip up and toe the line, the former Kota Baru MP tendered his resignation instead. The lawyer-turned-politician then quit Umno and joined PKR in the following year.
Meanwhile, the insider said Zaid's win in the by-election would also propel him to play a bigger role in the party and Pakatan Rakyat.
“Anwar interviewed several candidates, but has his mind fixed on Zaid. The party leadership would make the announcement later this week,” he added.
PKR is confident that the former minister would be able to rope in the support of all three races in the Malay-majority seat.
The constituency also has a sizeable number of Chinese and Indian voters, and is regarded as a test case to gauge public sentiment in view of the next general election.
Zaid: Let the party leadership decide
When contacted, Zaid declined to comment.
“I leave it to the party leadership to make an official announcement,” he said.
The Hulu Selangor seat fell vacant following the death of PKR's Zainal Abidin Ahmad two weeks ago.
In the 2008 general election, Zainal had edged Hulu Selangor's three-term MP and MIC deputy president G Palanivel by a mere 198 votes.
Barisan Nasional is expected to field Palanivel once again, although there are some objections from within Umno.
Certain Umno leaders feel that a Malay candidate would stand a better chance as opposed to someone from MIC, which is seen as having lost the support of the Indian community.
There is also speculation that disgruntled Umno factions would field an independent candidate.
Three others have since expressed their intention to contest as independents. Top on the list is influential local leader V Chandran.
The ex-Hulu Selangor MIC division chief, who was recently sacked from the party, was a former staunch ally of Palanivel.
The other two are Malaysian Indian Youth Council president A Rajaratnam and T Ananthan, a former Tamil Nesan employee who failed to win a Central Working Committee (CWC) position in the last MIC elections.
In a recent interview, both Chandran and Ananthan declared that they want to “teach (MIC president S) Samy Vellu a lesson”.
Almost 53 percent or 34,020 of the 64, 500 registered voters in Hulu Selangor are Malays, 26.3 percent or 16,964 Chinese and 19.3 per cent or 12,453 Indians.