Jan 26 2009 By JANE RITIKOS
PETALING JAYA: Bota assemblyman Datuk Nasarudin Hashim is quitting Umno to join PKR, making him the first Barisan Nasional elected representive to join the opposition party after the general election last year.
News of his defection sent shockwaves in Umno circles in Perak and around the country.
Pakatan Rakyat will now have 32 assemblymen in Perak, with Umno having one fewer at 27.
Nasarudin, 58, said his decision to jump ship was due to political developments and people’s support for the Opposition during the general election and the current situation in Umno.
Big decision: Nasarudin speaking to the press as Anwar listens at PKR’s office in Petaling Jaya yesterday.
Nasarudin was introduced as a PKR recruit by party adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at a press conference held at the party’s headquarters here yesterday.
The former Parit MP (2004-08) had won the Bota state seat last year by defeating Kapt (Rtd) Usaili Alias of the PKR by a 2,068-vote majority, polling 6,556 votes against the former’s 4,448.
Nasarudin, 58, who joined Umno in the 1970s, said he was entering PKR with immediate effect but would submit his resignation letter to Umno later.
“I am confident PKR will continue to uphold and respect the Constitution with regards to the position of Bahasa Melayu as the official national language, the position of the Rulers and Islam as the federal religion.
“I believe PKR and its partners in Pakatan Rakyat are able to be a better coalition of component parties for the people’s benefit,” he said.
Nasarudin. a former Felcra Bhd chairman, said by joining PKR he would be able to be a more effective assemblyman, especially with Pakatan Rakyat holding the reins of the state government in Perak.
Calling him an important leader in Perak, Anwar said Nasarudin’s decision was critical because it reflected the sentiments of his voters, particularly the Malay constituents.
“He is responding to that demand. We welcome him and I see it as a beginning of a new wave,” said Anwar.