Sunday, February 1, 2009

Perak on the brink - Star

Feb 1, 2009

IPOH: The Perak government is teetering on the edge with the resignation of two PKR representatives announced by the state assembly speaker V. Sivakumar earlier Sunday being challenged.

Sivakumar said he had received two faxed letters stating that Jamaluddin Mat Radzi and Mohd Osman Jailu had resigned their posts as assemblymen of Behrang and Changkat Jering respectively.

Their resignations are effective 5:45pm Sunday, he said in a statement, adding that this paved the way for by-elections in the two constituencies within 60 days.

He said he would inform the Election Commission officially Monday morning.

The Commission would then deliberate if and when by-elections are to be called.

However Jamaluddin denied vacating his seat. He said the resignation letter that was supposedly sent to Sivakumar was actually an old, undated “resignation letter” that he and the other six PKR assemblymen were forced to sign in late March last year.

“I am still the state assemblyman for Behrang. I have not resigned. I will challenge the validity of the letter as it was signed under duress,” he claimed, adding that he was discussing with his lawyers as to his next course of action.

He said there was no reason for him to resign his post just because he had problems with PKR leaders.

“My problems are with PKR leaders, not with the people of Behrang. I will not simply shirk my responsibilities to them,” he said.

He also denied rumours that he would be crossing over to Umno and Barisan Nasional, but confirmed that he would quit PKR and remain as an independent.

Mohd Osman could not be reached for comments as at press time.

Their resignations, whether valid or not, come after days of speculation that they were going to defect to Umno.

The Pakatan Rakyat state government is holding on with a razor-thin margin. It now holds 30 state seats against Barisan Nasional’s 27, with two seats up for grabs in the 59-seat State Assembly if by-elections are called.

Worse, rumours are also rife that Perak state assembly deputy speaker Hee Yit Fong, the DAP representative for Jelapang, is going to resign as well and join MCA.

When contacted at her home Sunday night, Hee declined to comment.

Missing in action

Earlier Sunday, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said that neither the state nor family members had been able to reach the two Perak state executive councillors.

He even said the state government would lodge a police report after consulting with their families.

Jamaluddin, 52, was the Perak Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Committee chairman while Mohd Osman, 57, headed the State Tourism and NGO Committee.

They were charged in a Sessions Court on Aug 25 last year with allegedly receiving bribes over the application for a RM180mil housing project in Sri Iskandar in Perak Tengah. Their case comes up for hearing on Feb 10.

After Umno’s Bota assemblyman Datuk Nasarudin Hashim crossed over to PKR last week, PKR and Umno have been involved in a psychological war, with both accusing each other of trying to pinch their assemblymen.

Jamaluddin and Mohd Osman have not been seen in public since Nasarudin crossed over to PKR last Sunday, with the media also failing to reach them for comments.

Speculation had been rife in Perak that the exco duo were going to resign from PKR and become Independents before joining Umno later.

No worries

PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa said he only knew about the resignation Sunday night and had yet to receive a full report on the matter.

“I do not think that there would be more (people resigning or defecting). As it is, we are calling for a meeting to discuss the matter.

“More will be known on Monday morning,” he said, adding that the decision on who would contest in the by-elections had yet to be reached.

PKR information chief Tian Chua said that PKR is confident that it would be able to retain the seats in Behrang and Changkat Jering.

“We’re not worried -- we have succeeded in taking over the two seats from Barisan in the past, let alone retaining what we already have,” he said

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