They apparently blame the ruling party for the high cost of living.
BUTTERWORTH: Scores of residents of a village in Penang have left Umno for Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), blaming the ruling party for the rising cost of living. This is according to one who claimed to be their spokesman.
Ahmad Shamsuddin, who also claimed to have been an Umno member for nearly 50 years, said the villagers of Kampung Tok Sani had become disillusioned with the party,
“Times are getting tough for village folk like us,” he said. “Living costs are up. The ringgit is down. We feel we have nobody to turn to, like nobody cares.
“As we watched events unfold in Umno, we got together and talked. We decided there was no harm in giving PPBM a try.”
Ahmad represented his neighbours in handing over 111 completed membership forms to PPBM supreme council member Marzuki Yahaya at the village in Butterworth yesterday. These were in addition to about 80 forms submitted earlier by individual village residents.
Ahmad said the decision was not influenced by anyone from PPBM. The party had not sent representatives to the village to recruit members, he said.
“We just believe that PPBM is the party we can turn to. Of course, there is the Tun Mahathir factor too,” he said, referring to PPBM chairman Mahathir Mohamad.
“We also considered what had happened internally in Umno. Some leaders had stood up to question the leadership over claims of wrongdoing. They fought and they left Umno.”
Asked what he thought of PPBM’s internal problems, Ahmad said these were “small matters”.
The four-month-old PPBM has recently been hit by scandal and internal politicking.
Party president Muhyiddin Yassin was alleged to have had an affair with a married woman and one of its founding members, Anina Saadudin, was implicated in a “sexting” affair, which she said cost her the post of women’s chief of the party.
The outspoken Anina has been upset by the loss, but she remains a supreme council member. She said she would have been retained as women’s chief if Mahathir had been the party president.
Yesterday, Muhyiddin denied that there was internal conflict in PPBM and said Anina was removed from her post because her performance was not up to par.
Both Muhyiddin and Mahathir denied that the party was split into two factions, one supporting the former and the other the latter.
Marzuki, formerly an Umno division chief in Penang, said the Anina issue was only a misunderstanding and one which the top leadership had cleared up.
He said people joining the new party were not deterred by the issue or the allegations hurled at the party.
“We can say 100% of the people from this village who want to join us are from Umno,” he said. “They are disappointed with the Umno leadership.”
He said PPBM had distributed 10,000 membership forms in Penang and about 7,000 had been filled out and returned to the party.
“We are going to vet the applications,” he said. “We want to make sure that those we accept into the party will not cause internal problems.”
He said PPBM’s Penang chapter would be launched on Jan 14 and the formation of party divisions would follow.
“The Bagan division is the first to be endorsed. The remaining 13 will come next. We have also identified the division leaders.”
He also said the party had identified the seats it would contest in the next general election.