Barely six months after being appointed as a minister, a disappointed Zaid Ibrahim has reached the point of no return. Even the prime minister has failed to dissuade him from reconsidering his decision to resign.
And the straw which broke the camel's back was last Friday's Internal Security Act arrest of three individuals, which Zaid, the de facto law minister, had condemned.
At a press conference in his office at the Prime Minister's Department attended by scores of journalists this morning, the outgoing minister said he will not reconsider his decision to quit and conceded that he has failed in his task to convince the government to initiate legal reforms.
"I am not tired. I am just disappointed. My decision to quit remains. I will resign," he said in a tone which barely hid his disenchantment.
"I think I have failed to convince those in authority to effect changes on how the government should move forward," added the 58-year-old politician who left a successful legal practice to serve in the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's government.
Zaid indicated he could join the opposition PKR, which political observers say could form a new government if the ruling coalition continues to defy calls for reform.
"I have an open mind and am not in a hurry to make a decision," he said.
PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim today said that cabinet ministers were among those defecting to the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.
In March, the former Kota Baru MP was made a senator and appointed minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in a post-election cabinet reshuffle by the prime minister.
Zaid, who was entrusted with the task of reforming the judiciary, tendered his resignation yesterday but was asked by Abdullah to go on a two-week leave to rethink his decision.
On Sunday, the outgoing minister had slammed the arrest of controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, DAP MP Teresa Kok and Sin Chew Daily journalist Tan Hoon Cheng under the ISA.
While Tan was released 18 hours later, Raja Petra and Kok continued to be held under the security law, which Zaid described as an ‘unjust’ piece of legislation.
Open to joining opposition
Meanwhile, Zaid was also asked whether he would quit Umno and consider joining the Anwar Ibrahim-led PKR.
Describing it as difficult question to answer, Zaid revealed that he will leave his options open for now.
"I do have some problems (in Umno) but at the same time I don’t know PKR well, I don’t know the leaders, so it’s too early to say," he said.
The Umno politician was referring to his previous 18-month suspension from the ruling party after openly criticising the party's decision to find him guilty of money politics.
The other problem surrounds his current bid to contest for the Kota Baru Umno division chief post, which he claimed was 'sabotaged' when 20 nominations he received were nullified.
Zaid’s resignation will deal another devastating blow to the already weakened Abdullah administration.
Since the March 8 elections, which saw the ruling coalition losing its two-third majority in Parliament for the first time in history and the opposition seizing control of an additional four states apart from Kelantan, Abdullah has come under intense pressure
In recent weeks, there have been calls from various quarters, including Umno vice-president Muhyiddin Yassin, asking the premier to step down earlier than the 2010 transition of power plan.
Abdullah has also been severely criticised by his predecessor Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who quit Umno in May as a mark of protest against his successor’s ‘poor leadership’.
Mahathir is now on the brink of making a comeback at the behest of several Umno leaders, which observers believe is being done in order for the 82-year-old statesman to play a prominent role in the campaign to oust Abdullah.
Sep 16, 08 11:17am
De facto Law Minister Zaid Ibrahim has decided to stick with his decision to quit in protest of the government invoking the Internal Security Act.
"My decision (to quit) remains," he told a press conference at his office in Putarajaya this morning.
The minister had tendered his resignation yesterday, a day after he took the government to task for arresting three people under the security law.
However, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had asked Zaid to go on a two-week leave to reconsider his decision.
The former Kota Baru MP was made a senator and named as minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of legal affairs during the cabinet reshuffle by premier Abdullah in March.
His appointment was lauded by many quarters as it was seen as a gesture by the prime minister to put in place judicial reforms.
However, Zaid lamented that the latest ISA arrests had dealt a blow to his six-month-long task of trying to regenerate the judiciary.
The minister also conceded that his views on certain matters do not go down well with his cabinet colleagues. - Malaysiakini
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
Zaid sticks to 'quit' decision