PETALING JAYA, Nov 19 — Datuk Zaid Ibrahim confirmed today that he will quit PKR but will only do so this December 16, and will likely go on to form a party of his own.
The maverick politician, who recently made headlines when he announced his decision to quit the PKR deputy presidential race, also declared that he would “definitely” contest in the coming general election, expected to be held early next year.
He, however, stressed that the formation of a new party would depend on his resources and his support base.
“I will work with my supporters and the people of this country so if we have the resources and the support, we will form a new party so that people will have a choice,” he said at a press conference in his home here this morning.
Continuing his tirade against PKR and its de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Zaid said that his decision was born out of his frustration with PKR and its leadership, and his passion to create real political transformation in the country.
“Those who want to continue to hallucinate and dream for Anwar can continue to support him, but those who want to see real politics, based on substantive policies, policies that are real, that are not interested to only perpetuate a certain personality like him, they may want to choose my party,” he said with a smile.
Zaid also accused Anwar of only fighting for personal interests, pointing out that when the leader was a deputy prime minister, he had brought little change to the country.
“What has Anwar stood for? If you look at his struggles, what? What helped him was his black eye incident. He was convicted for corruption and abuse of power, and when he was deputy prime minister, what reform did he do?
“Look back at the facts,” he said.
Zaid went further to compare himself with Anwar and claimed that, unlike the latter, he had brought reform to the judiciary when he was a Cabinet minister under Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration.
“If you look at my struggles, I have been consistent. I resigned from the Cabinet not because I was afraid but based on principles, so instead of calling me a quitter, I should be called a fighter.
“I was in the Cabinet for six months and I tried successfully to change the judiciary,” he said.
Zaid, once at the forefront of local politics, created headlines when he quit his ministerial post in 2008 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 in 2009, 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, 2008 takeover plan flopped.
Zaid was also PKR’s candidate in the Hulu Selangor by-election in April but failed to defend the federal seat.
He had been making his way up the party ranks by entering the party’s deputy presidential race but dropped a bombshell earlier this month 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.
Today, when asked about the significance of December 16, Zaid laughed and pointed out that Anwar himself had chosen September 16 for his infamous coup attempt in 2008.
“I like December 16 just like how Anwar liked September 16. But there is no significance... it is just a date.
“At least I am not like him, claiming that enough MPs will be joining PKR. For me, I am just announcing that I am leaving PKR,” he said.
He stressed, however, that his exit from PKR and likely formation of a new party did not mean he was burning his bridges with Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
“No, no, no, no. I am not going to sever any ties. I want everyone to be a friend but they have to be real. If they really want to see change in the country and truly believe in real political transformation, then I am friendly with everybody,” he said.
Zaid added that his new party would be neither PR-friendly nor sympathetic to Barisan Nasional (BN), but would be supportive of either side based on issues.
“Like I said, I want to be friendly to all. For me, I am an issue-related politician. I fight for the truth and if a leader speaks lies and nonsense, then I would not support them, it does not matter if they are from BN or PR,” he said.
He admitted that his exit from PKR would likely create the perception that he was a quitter and a traitor to PR’s struggles, but insisted that being popular was not his prime concern.
“I know and my friends have told me that my popularity will be affected because I am fighting against Anwar and all these other leaders. I am viewed as a traitor to PKR.
“But my popularity is not a main priority. The main thing is the issue of politics, I do not subscribe to this ‘politik putar’, or spin politics, politics to create untruths,” he said.
Zaid laughed when asked if his exit from PKR would cause damage to the opposition PR pact, and pointed out that he was merely a “small leader”.
“I am not like Anwar, who is called the leader of the 21st century. I am just a small leader but I am sure they are all happy that I have left.
“Anwar already said that I am free to go. I am sure others like Azmin Ali and Syed Husin Ali are happy too,” he said.