PETALING JAYA: Outgoing Port Dickson MP Danyal Balagopal Abdullah has hit out at the National Patriots Association (Patriot) over its warning of a possible backlash from veterans if he vacated his seat to make way for Anwar Ibrahim to contest in a by-election.
Danyal, a former Navy officer, said Patriot president Brig-Gen (Rtd) Mohamed Arshad Raji, who he described as a “good friend”, seemed to have lost touch with reality.
“As a prime minister-in-waiting, he (Anwar) cannot be making noise from outside and do nothing. He has to get into the system as soon as possible.”
Danyal said there was nothing to lose by him vacating the seat which he won last May.
“He would be an added value on the issue I am fighting for,” he said after announcing his resignation as MP to allow Anwar to contest the seat in the latter’s bid for a parliamentary comeback.
Earlier, Arshad said that veterans who had welcomed their former colleague in Parliament last May would be disappointed if Danyal, a first admiral, decided to vacate his seat.
“The PKR leadership must understand that the presence of armed forces veterans in Parliament is supported by thousands of veterans. These individuals are seen as their representatives, and a voice that they can rely upon in matters affecting veterans.”
Today’s press conference at PKR headquarters was also attended by PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli.
Below are selected questions and answers during the press conference to announce Danyal’s resignation:
Why was the Port Dickson seat chosen by Anwar?
Saifuddin Nasution: When Anwar expressed his intention (to contest), several MPs offered (their seats) and when he made the decision, after consideration many factors. (Should be considering).
Was Azmin Ali’s camp purposely left out from discussions on the matter?
Saifuddin Nasution: When MPs offered their seats, we did not ask which camp they were from.
After the discussion, we presented the proposal to our political bureau and everyone gave their opinions.
Shouldn’t Azmin Ali be here today?
Rafizi Ramli: That is not a question relevant to this press conference.
Is giving a seat to Anwar a betrayal of voters?
Saifuddin Nasution: Anwar was an MP… He was denied from taking part (in elections) and now he is free to take part in the process. If he is given a seat, he can carry out a bigger mission according to Pakatan Harapan’s consensus. Good intentions are not a betrayal.
Danyal: The word ‘betrayal’ is a bit too strong. I have been campaigning. I come from the rural area and I have seen poverty. Sixty years after independence and our rural folk still live in poverty. I am vacating this seat not for any enjoyment and as it has been agreed upon by Anwar, I will continue to serve.
I came to Port Dickson to serve the people. What I need from Anwar is his backing as a prime minister-in-waiting. It would help me to serve the people better. I am not abandoning my people.
I would continue to stay in Port Dickson and be the eyes and ears on the ground. I am not quitting that. The voters are elated that the prime minister-in-waiting is coming to their area. I can now do more for the poor people in Port Dickson.
Did PH offer any compensation to Danyal?
Saifuddin Nasution: None. That is the beauty of being members in PKR.
Could it be considered a family affair with Anwar, wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar being in the same party? Can you comment on that?
Saifuddin Nasution: Both Nurul Izzah Anwar and Wan Azizah Wan Ismail have shown their capabilities. They were chosen through the process of democracy. They were chosen by voters. Not by Anwar.
So why choose Port Dickson?
Saifuddin Nasution: Last time, it was Wan Azizah (who gave up her seat for Anwar) and now she is the deputy prime minister. We just continue. Both (Wan Azizah and Nurul Izzah) have senior party positions.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would relinquish his position in the next two years. Why is the party making the decision now?
Saifuddin Nasution: The party never put a time limit for Mahathir to stay as prime minister. Anwar says this is the time to support Mahathir as prime minister. He will receive our support. We need to carry out our reform agenda.
The racial breakdown in Port Dickson shows Malays making up 43%, Chinese 33% and Indians 22%. It is not a Malay-majority area. How confident are you that Anwar can win this constituency?
Rafizi Ramli: It is not far off from the breakdown of the PKR membership, which is 50% Malays and 50% non-Malays. The suggestion that Anwar did not get non-Malay support was proven wrong in the previous elections.
In 2008, he was the first opposition leader to get the most support from the non-Malays. Under his leadership, the opposition coalition, then Pakatan Rakyat and now Pakatan Harapan, continued to get support from the non-Malays.