By Neville Spykerman- The Malaysian Insider
KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — Former Umno minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim has joined PKR, in a boost to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced Zaid's decision today at a special PKR congress here, saying it will help improve ties between the three PR parties.
Zaid said he felt he would be most effective in PKR which fits his ideals and chose the party because he knows Anwar is a good man.
“It’s also multinational party with a wide Malay base, a young party with plenty of room to expand.” he said.
He said he was looking forward to playing the role of strengthening the relationship between Pakatan Rakyat’s coalition partners.
Zaid resigned from the Barisan Nasional (BN) cabinet last year in protest against the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) and was subsequently sacked from Umno.
During his short tenure as minister, he attempted to introduce reforms to the judiciary and pushed for compensation to be paid to judges sacked during the 1988 judiciary crisis.
But it is his role as a reformist and moderate which is expected to be a big boost for PR as Anwar attempts to put the opposition alliance’s agenda for reform back on track.
The PR alliance has been beset by crisis in recent weeks with PAS and DAP leaders at loggerheads over the Islamist party’s attempts to hold talks with Umno on Malay unity.
Anwar will be hoping Zaid can help bridge the differences between the secular and Chinese dominated DAP and the Islamist Malay PAS.
Zaid said today he was ready to help make PR a better alternative to BN.
He said he had friends in both PAS as well as DAP and feels he can play a meaningful role.
“The first step is to be better friends before we can move forward.” he said.
Meanwhile Anwar said Zaid’s entry was a positive development and would provide a boost to PKR.
“Zaid has a reputation for fighting for human rights and for the independence of the judiciary.”
He said PKR could use Zaid’s experience and exposure.
Anwar said Zaid’s role with Pakatan Rakyat would be formalised only after discussions with other component parties to be held next week.
He added that the PKR president would also decide on Zaid’s formal role in PKR.
However due to his experience Zaid is expected to be given a seat in the party’s supreme council and political bureau.