Jan 25, 2009 By JANE RITIKOS and CLARA CHOOI
PETALING JAYA: Bota assemblyman Datuk Nasarudin Hashim is quitting Umno to join PKR, bringing the total number of state seats held by the Pakatan Rakyat alliance here to 32, versus Barisan Nasional’s 27.
Nasarudin, 58, said his decision was based on the people’s growing support for Pakatan, and the current situation within Umno and with its leaders.
Speaking at a press conference with PKR advisor and de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday, the former Parit MP said he was joining PKR with immediate effect but would submit his resignation letter to Umno later.
Saying that he was doing this in the interest of the people, especially his supporters and voters, he added that he was confident in PKR’s commitment to protecting the rights and interests of all races.
“I am confident PKR will continue to uphold and respect the Constitution with regards to the position of Bahasa Melayu (sic) as the official national language, the position of the Rulers and Islam as the federal religion,” he said.
He added that by joining PKR, he would be able to more effectively represent the interest of his constituency since Pakatan Rakyat is the state government in Perak.
Nasarudin is former Felcra Berhad chairman and was an administrative and diplomatic officer in Wisma Putra, and also served at the Information Ministry. He joined Umno in the 1970s and had held the post of branch head since 1985.
Calling him an important leader in Perak, Anwar said Nasarudin’s decision was critical as it reflected the sentiment of the voters, especially his Malay constituents.
“He is responding to that demand. We welcome him and I see it as a beginning of a new wave,” said Anwar.
The defection left Barisan leaders in shock. In IPOH, Perak MCA chairman Datuk Kong Cho Ha described the move as a “selfish one,” adding that Nasaruddin needed to answer to his party and his electorate.
“I am surprised and shocked to hear of this crossover by a Barisan assemblyman,” he said.
“It is also up to his conscience on whether he should have first vacated his seat in Bota. He has to answer to his electorate because they had voted for him under the Barisan ticket,” he said.
Perak Gerakan chief Datuk Chang Ko Youn concurred, saying that Nasaruddin should have first resigned as Bota assemblyman.
“If you are elected under a certain party, you should stick with it.
“If you disagree with certain policies, then you should rightfully resign from your seat and later offer yourself up as a Pakatan Rakyat candidate in the by-election,” he said.
Pakatan component party leaders were however elated by the news and some even claimed there would be more such crossovers.
Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, who is also state PAS deputy commissioner, said there were unconfirmed reports that more Barisan representatives planned to follow in Nasaruddin’s footsteps.
“There will be more crossovers ... we are working on it,” he said.
Perak DAP chief Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham welcomed Nasaruddin into the Pakatan family, saying that the latter had told him in a phone conversation that he wanted to contribute more effectively to the alliance.