Monday, April 15, 2013
Mat Taib poised to join PAS: EXODUS FROM BN TO INTENSIFY
There is mounting speculation that former Umno bigwig Muhammag Muhammad Taib is poised to join the Opposition's PAS party.
If the former Selangor chief minister and Umno information chief does really cross over, it would deal another deadly blow to Prime Minister Najib Razak's already shrinking chances of retaining the federal government.
Mat Taib, as he is better known, may be past his prime and no longer as influential in Umno as he once was. But to lose such a stalwart is bound to send reverberations across the length and breadth of Najib's ruling Umno party.
Opposition leaders also believe it may signal the start of a series of high-profile crossovers.
"Bear in mind, Mat Taib was still very much at the center of things in Umno until Abdullah Badawi was ousted as prime minister in 2009. The Najib camp snubbed him after that and didn't give him a chance to contest Hulu Selangor (against Zaid Ibrahim in 2010). They also tried to pressure with corruption charges," an Umno watcher told Malaysia Chronicle..
"So it is not surprising at all that Mat Taib is bitter with Umno. He feels he gave the party his best, he was loyal but they took the side of his rivals even at his division level."
'Evaluation by media': Should Mat Taib be given another chance?
Actually, the news that Mat Taib was considering moving to the Opposition has been long simmering, first emerging many months ago.
Some say he put off finalizing the decision in the hopes that his former Umno colleagues would treat him better and offer him some opportunities to get back into the top Umno circles.
Others say the Opposition was wary about the public reception to his joining the Pakatan Rakyat led by Anwar Ibrahim.
"What we are seeing is actually a 'evaluation by media'. Mat Taib cannot hide the fact of his past corruption case. He was also quite controversial when he was the Selangor MB and even ran off with the Sultan's daughter," said the Umno analyst.
"I think the Opposition wants to gauge the response from the people before they officially admit him. But frankly, as long as he is sincere and wants to repent, why not give him a chance? He can serve the people in many ways, not necessarily hold high office."
Malay daily Sinar Harian had last week reported the rumour of Mat Taib joining PAS, quoting former Perak Mentri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin. Taib himself declined to comments. However, it is telling that he did not deny the speculation.
"I am not ready to make any comments on this news ," was all that Mat Taib would tell Sinar Harian.
There have been many high-profile BN leaders who have in the past year quit to join the Pakatan. Most notable are former Umno supreme council member Lajim Ukin and former Upko deputy president Wilfrid Bumburing.
Born in Kampung Sungai Manggis, Kuala Kalumpang, Hulu Selangor, Mat Taib is a graduate from Universiti Malaya and was also a former teacher in SMK Kuala Kubu Baru. The political veteran joined Umno in 1964, and quickly rose within its ranks to be elected vice president in 2004. He was also appointed as Selangor Umno deputy state liaison committee chief in the same year.
Mat Taib was also former Batang Kali state assemblyman, winning in the general elections of 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1995. He served as Menteri Besar of Selangor from 1986 to 1997.
However, he was forced to resign as Selangor Mentri Besar in April 1997 after he was charged in Australia over currency irregularities amounting to RM3.8mil. He was found not guilty. Mat Taib was cleared by the court as he pleaded that he did not understand English and therefore did not understand the currency regulations. However, in a later development, an investigative committee found that the court had erred in its judgment.
Whilst serving as the Mentri Besar of Selangor, he eloped with Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah's daughter, Tengku Puteri Zaharia Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah to Thailand where they reportedly got married. They have since divorced.
In 2006, he was appointed as a senator in the Dewan Negara. This allowed him to be appointed as a minister by the then prime minister Abdullah Badawi in March 2008. His stint in the Cabinet ended after a reshuffling Najib, who took over a premier in April 2009.