Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has gone from hero to zero in PKR after whipping up a storm over the contest for the PKR deputy president post.
IT must be true what they say about politicians needing much less sleep than normal people because Datuk Zaid Ibrahim blogged his decision to quit the contest for the PKR deputy president post at about 3am yesterday.
His friends and foes in PKR had seen it coming but they were still stunned when it finally happened.
Zaid, who left Umno and joined PKR last year, has been like a bull in a china shop since the race for the No. 2 post began, and yesterday he sort of broke the last piece of crockery.
The timing of his quit move could not have been worse for Pakatan Rakyat following PKR’s defeat in the recent by-elections.
Zaid declared that he was still committed to the Opposition’s cause, but given all that had happened the last month it looks like his love affair with PKR has ended.
Some think he has burned his bridges given that his relationship with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has completely collapsed.
It is doubtful if any of the other Pakatan parties would want to have much to do with him after this because DAP and PAS politicians have been watching Zaid’s erratic behaviour with a mixture of shock and horror.
DAP leaders are probably thanking their lucky stars that he chose to join PKR.
The party had also tried to recruit the former law minister after he walked out of Umno. They had thought then that he would be a fantastic mouthpiece to counter Umno.
Moreover, he had quit the government in protest over the use of the ISA on several people including DAP politician Teresa Kok.
But imagine if Zaid had joined DAP, then decided to contest a top post and proceeded to criticise the father-and-son alliance in the party – it would have sent the DAP rocket spiralling into outer space.
“It’s quite a pity but Zaid has lost his credibility as an agent of change in Pakatan Rakyat and PKR. He could have devoted his time to building the common platform in Pakatan Rakyat.
“Strategically speaking, he ran a lousy campaign, it was a train wreck from the start. And it is not on to call it quits only when the odds are stacked against you,” said DAP’s MP for Jelutong Jeff Ooi.
Zaid has definitely damaged PKR. There were no taboos in the party as far as he was concerned and he had poked at the sacred cows in the party, pointing out contradictions which party members had been silent on.
He questioned the passive role of president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the infinite powers wielded by de facto leader Anwar and he almost contested the No. 1 post.
His allegation of fraud and manipulation in the ongoing elections has hurt the party and cast doubts on the one member-one vote election process.
Some people will view his behaviour as a case of sour grapes but there are also those who are going to buy into his claims that ballot papers for the party polls were up for sale.
Lawyer-blogger Haris Ibrahim has presented quite a convincing account of this in his blog, harismibrahim.wordpress.com.
Party sources said elections committee chief Dr Molly Cheah was so frustrated with the way the polls were being managed that she wanted to quit her post, but was persuaded to stay on by Dr Wan Azizah.
After the first weekend of balloting, Azmin Ali led by 3,073 votes against Zaid’s 2,501 votes and Mustaffa Kamil Ayob’s 1,116 votes. By the second weekend, Azmin had surged ahead to 5,078 votes against Zaid’s 3,411 votes and Mustaffa’s 1,193 votes.
Azmin struck a commanding lead even in Sabah where Zaid was said to have the support.
But it was the discrepancies in Sabah that became the last straw for Zaid. He alleged vote rigging in divisions such as Libaran and Tawau.
For instance, 81 people attended the Libaran AGM last month but 800 apparently turned out to vote last weekend.
In Tawau, 84 members were present for the AGM last month but about 500 people voted at last weekend’s elections.
Zaid’s argument is that it is illogical that there could be such a vast difference between the crowd at the AGM and at the ballotting for the party’s top leadership.
According to Zaid’s side, this is not the end of the story and they intend to pursue the issue. But Zaid is not going to win much sympathy from the Pakatan crowd.
They feel that he only cares about himself rather than the larger good of the alliance.
Many of them are upset he took the dramatic step so soon after the crushing defeat in Galas and Batu Sapi. They said he should be thinking of helping them re-focus and re-strategise.
Pakatan is at the crossroads but Zaid may have come to a dead end.