Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Dec 3, 08 3:03pm
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim today said it was now up to Zaid Ibrahim (picture right)to decide if he wanted to join PKR or any other opposition parties following Umno's decision to sack him yesterday.
The PKR leader also said that while he would welcome Zaid into the Pakatan alliance, it would however only be apt to give the former minister some time to reflect his current situation.
Umno last night decided to sack Zaid after he was seen in the company of opposition leaders and at opposition events - the most recent being his presence at the PKR annual meeting last Saturday.
"It is his choice. He has been discussing with PKR leaders, DAP and PAS and they seem to be comfortable with him because we have seen him rather steadfast in defending the principles of human rights and very committed in his stance against draconian laws (like the) ISA.
"I think he is an asset to the nation. We welcome him to be more involved, we have been engaging in principle agendas together.
"We've had discussions but I don't want to be seen to be pushing him in the direction. Let him have the space to reflect now that he has been unceremoniously dismissed as a member of Umno," Anwar told a press conference in Parliament this morning.
Asked if there was an attempt to convince Zaid to join Pakatan, Anwar said that there was never an issue of him trying to convince the ex-minister.
He added that Zaid shared common principles with the Pakatan parties as far as human rights and other issues were concerned.
Zaid has often been perceived as a renegade in Umno and the government for his vocal criticism of various government policies, notably the judiciary and the ISA.
In September, Zaid tendered his resignation as law minister in protest after a fallout with the government after it invoked the ISA to arrest several opposition figures.
To many Umno leaders and members, his outspokenness against his own party and government was unacceptable.
They felt the final straw was Zaid's attendance at the PKR congress last Saturday. The day before, he was seen at a DAP dinner in Penang.
His presence at the congress, as well as his statement that he was "keeping his options open", further fuelled speculation that he had intentions of joining the opposition.
Sacking reflects Umno's intolerance
Commenting on the sacking, Anwar said that it was "extreme" and reflected on the lack of tolerance the Malay-based party had for differences in opinion.
"We have seen even in our parties people engaging with Umno leaders, participating in functions and giving statements not particularly reflective of our party position but we speak to them and persuade them to tow the line.
"This only shows the intolerance of Umno towards any difference of opinions and what is weird for me is that discussions with other parties should not be an issue but that is the party's problem.
"We hope that Zaid would take this as a challenge and step into the arena," said Anwar.