Friday, 23 May 2008
BARADAN KUPPUSAMY, The Malay Mail
CHARISMATIC former PKR youth chief Ezam Mohamad Nor, who lost to PKR vice-president Azmin Ali in the battle to be the political torchbearer for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and quit, is back but as a Umno member. He is expected to join Umno next week and his main task is to defeat Azmin in his power base in Selangor and help recapture the State from PKR.
He quit PKR in disgust last year, blaming Anwar for siding with Azmin. He formed Gerak, an anti-corruption NGO, campaigned against official corruption, fought for judicial independence and exposed numerous scandals involving government projects. He was expected to contest under an Umno ticket in the March 8 election but his aides said he declined the offer because it was too early to rejoin Umno. Ezam’s re-entry into Umno is being organised as a major event involving top Umno leaders, sources said. “Some of his supporters in PKR are expected to join him in the crossover to Umno,” a source said.
Ezam declined comment but said a statement would be issued next week. A senior aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Ezam is resuming his political career from where he left off in 2007, but now with Umno.
Ezam, 40, is widely expected to be appointed a senator, given a comfortable sinecure and tasked to help lead the battle to recapture Selangor where he will meet his old foe Azmin head-to-head. Ezam, will also be an asset to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdul lah Ahmad Badawi in his campaign to fight corruption and reform the judiciary, an Umno leader said.
“He is a former Umno member and so he is not a stranger. He will also be helping Umno to reform itself,” said an Umno Supreme Council member. “We expect him to be made a senator.” Ezam was previously a political secretary to Anwar and had served a two-year sentence under the Official Secrets Act in connection with the campaign to free Anwar while he was in prison.
He was also detained under ISA for a year for organising the Reformasi campaign. He later criticised Anwar for his “dictatorial politics” and accused Azmin of s cheming against him.
Political observer s said although Ezam is charismatic and a good speaker with good networking skills, he will be labelled a “turncoat” for rejoining Umno — a label difficult to live down.