Malaysiakini Letter

Saifuddin should have remained in Umno

Karamjit Gill  |  Published:  |  Modified:

The unveiling of Saifuddin Abdullah as a new member of PKR is being hailed as a huge step forward for the opposition. Saifuddin abandoned Barisan Nasional due to the alleged 1MDB scandal. Looking from a wider perspective, will this move add leverage to the opposition coalition?

Saifuddin is a former Member of Parliament from Temerloh and held the position of deputy higher education minister in the past. From the beginning, Saifuddin was always regarded as the future of Umno and BN due to his moderation and progressive nature both in thoughts and action. He was never shy of questioning the government openly when he felt things are not right.

He even relinquished his position as a fellow of Universiti Malaya (UM) following the controversial termination of Professor Dr Mohammad Redzuan Omar from UM. Urbanites looked at him differently compared to other Umno members. Not many people have negative things to say about him.

With all the qualities loved by the urban folk, he still lost his Temerloh parliamentary seat to a PAS candidate during the last general election. He even lost his Umno supreme council seat. He was rendered without a position within the party.

A modern, progressive and intelligent Malay lost to an individual from a conservative party. In simple words, Saifuddin was rejected by the people of Temerloh. That is something important to ponder upon. Did he not perform his duties as a MP that he got booted out? Was he just too busy politicking rather than doing his job?

The opposition coalition is filled with the ‘so-called’ moderate and progressive type of people. How would the addition of another one of the same kind benefit the entire organisation? In order to secure a parliamentary seat Saifuddin would probably stand in an urban area where the support is with the opposition. That would make absolutely no difference to the domination of the opposition. The opposition is already in control of all major cities.

Now in PKR, Saifuddin will continue to voice concerns about alleged foul play in the government. Will that make any difference? He has been doing that all along anyway but still lost. He is going to be another one of the fringe players in PKR.

Instead, I feel the opposition should have coaxed Saifuddin to remain in Umno. An Umno member continuously speaking up against the leader of his organisation, highlighting the wrongs carry much more value than doing the same under the opposition’s banner. If the sack from Umno was imminent, it would sway to Saifuddin’s favour.

Now, Saifuddin will only be looked up to and hailed by the urbanites. He would be seen as another BN defector who has become out of favour and is utilising the 1MDB saga as a vehicle to remain relevant in politics. Perhaps joining the opposition was the only way for him to obtain a seat in the next GE hence the jump.

The one advantage Saifuddin will have now is definitely more likes and positive comments on his social media page. More town folk applauding him with every statement he makes. It is worth realising that social media is not Malaysia and vice versa. It is just a small subset in the whole big bubble. Getting huge number of hits on social media ain't going to win you Putrajaya.

I thought the opposition would be smarter in handling Saifuddin. Make him stay in Umno and be a menace from inside. To defeat BN, you need to cause unrest internally. PM Najib Abdul Razak and Co knows this and are therefore on a cropping process. The change has to happen from within. The opposition is weak today not because of BN but because of internal squabbles.

You can fight anything provided you are strong from the inside. But if you are weak internally, even a minor threat can defeat you effortlessly. Attempting to strike BN when they are strong is going to be a suicidal mission.

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