By Clara Chooi
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s detractors have set up a blog, aimed at attacking the former Umno man as an “outsider” bent on destroying PKR.
The blog, called “Save PKR – do not allow outsiders destroy the party” at antizaid.wordpress.com, saw its first entry on Saturday, just as the hotly contested race kicked off with divisions nominating.
“This blog was born out of the intention to save PKR from being destroyed by a person sponsored by greedy and voracious businessmen.
“From today on, this blog will publish exposes after exposes over who this person is. To the readers and whomever who wants to share information on the evils of this person above, please email firstname.lastname@example.org,” the entry read.
Four more entries have followed — two yesterday and two more today — alleging Zaid had bought votes, used an Umno daily and a mouthpiece for this campaign.
One entry, posted yesterday, appeared to harp on how Zaid still trailed behind vice-president Azmin Ali, another lead contender in the deputy presidency race, in his tally of nominations from the divisions.
It claimed that the nominations tally showed that members still “loved the party”.
“Money and corruption failed to buy over the loyalty of the members. Funds coming from these greedy and voracious businessmen still has not been able to threaten the loyalty of the PKR grassroots.
“So far, the nominations trend is on the right track. May the division members continue to do the right thing. Do not allow PKR, which was formed since 1999, be destroyed by individuals who only just joined the party in 2008.
“Think about it,” the entry said.
To date, Azmin leads with 39 nominations while Zaid only has about half his count at 19.
Trailing behind is another vice-president Mustaffa Kamil Ayub with six nominations, while the party’s chief strategist Chua Tian Chang has received two, just enough to qualify for the race. PKR elections director Fuziah Salleh and Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim have a nomination each.
The blog confirms Zaid’s recent complaints that he is a victim of unprecedented attacks aimed at destroying his chances in the polls.
He had earlier this month lamented that a prominent blogger was paid to character assassinate him.
“The blogger was asked to write that I am willing to pay RM20,000 to every division that nominates me and to say that I am working for Tun Daim Zainuddin to destroy Parti Keadilan Rakyat,” he said.
“My loyalty was also questioned by some PKR MPs, but loyalty to whom, it was never explained. Maybe I am not loyal to the party struggle or to the top leadership. I don’t know,” he added.
Zaid, who was briefly the de facto law minister in the Abdullah administration, also claimed that he was warned that he risk being “buried” — the way the late Tun Ghafar Baba had been in the 1993 Umno party election — if he chooses to stay in the race.
Then, Ghafar only received four nominations in that contest and withdrew from the race in favour of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Anwar’s win saw him replacing Ghafar as deputy prime minister — making him heir apparent to then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The purported attacks however, have failed to dampen Zaid’s spirits.
When informed of the latest blog “Save Keadilan” today, the 59-year-old leader expressed momentary surprise then laughed it off.
“I kind of expected it… this is an all out attack against me,” he said.
He told The Malaysian Insider that when he put his name forward for deputy president, the smear campaign began.
“That is the theme of the campaign… that I am an outside and the party has to be saved from me,” he said.
Zaid then jokingly added that it was obvious that many leaders were apprehensive of his entry into PKR in June last year.
Zaid caused headlines in 2008 when he broke ranks with Umno over the ISA arrests of DAP’s Teresa Kok and a journalist and also quit his ministerial post. He later joined PKR after he was sacked from Umno.
“But it is ok. I will respond to the attacks as they come but I will not do the same thing. For me to want to destroy PKR does not make sense… for what?
“For me to save it from people who are not making significant contributions to the reform movement, now that is quite clear since I joined,” he said.
Zaid reiterated that he wanted to set up a different political culture in the party and a more goal-based objective to reform the party, sharpen Pakatan Rakyat’s game and subsequently win over Putrajaya.
“So if people do not like that… then… selambalah,” he said, and laughed.
He added that he would not take action against his detractors or urge the party leadership to do so, pointing out that it would be “stating the obvious”.
“They know what is going on, so why should I state the obvious… I don’t know. It is just pointless,” he said.
He also accused the PKR leadership, which is seen to be backing Azmin in the race, of being “elitist” in nature, claiming they were living on “cloud nine” with their beliefs that nominations from the divisions would be enough to help them retain their grasp on the party.
“They think they have the support of the people. If my theory is correct, then political transformation is not about getting a few people’s nominations to contest… it is about the pulse of the people, their livelihood, about what they want,” he said.
Zaid concluded by saying that the latest attack against him would not serve to hurt his campaign, claiming that he still remained confident of his chances.
“I am still reasonably confident that I will win. If, of course, there is a fair counting and fair process, then I am sure I will win,” he said.
Zaid is said to be walking into the race as a one-man-show without the backing of the party’s leadership, which he has alienated himself from. Azmin however, is said to be PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s blue-eyed boy, and has received endorsements from scores of party leaders.
Zaid however, claims to represent the voice of the grassroots, and is said to have a large following from members in Sabah and Sarawak.
The divisions that have not yet cast their nominations are in Selangor, Johor, Sarawak and the Federal Territories. Closing date for nominations is on October 3 and voting will go on from October 29 to November 21.