PUTRAJAYA: Parti Keadilan Nasional was dealt a major blow in the run-up to the general election when 12 of its leaders applied to rejoin Umno yesterday.
The group, led by Ruslan Kassim, who was former Keadilan information chief and was liaison chief for Negri Sembilan Keadilan before the defection, said the wish to rejoin Umno “had been there for sometime.”
“We were just waiting for the right time and situation. Now that the country’s leadership has changed and the political climate is now conducive, with the right government policies put into place, we feel this is the right time.
“But let me stress that we are only changing our means to achieve our objectives as our principles remain and beliefs remain the same,” he told reporters after handing over application forms to rejoin Umno to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi here yesterday.
Others in the group were vice Youth chief Muhammad Zahid Md Arip, deputy director of elections Hamdan Taha, former Pahang information chief Dr Abdul Wahid Ahmad Suhaimie, Seruan Keadilan chief editor Mohd Hanafiah Man, Youth exco member Fakgrol Azman Abu Bakar, former Youth exco member Shamsul Bahari Shamsuddin, vice Youth chief for Federal Territory Rosli Mohd Johar, division chief for Kuala Nerus Zainuddin Awang, Sarawak leader Datuk Bujang Ulis, Negri Sembilan vice Youth chief Rusli Mohd Shariff and Pahang Youth exco member Jeffry Nizam.
Ruslan said the decision to rejoin Umno was taken after long deliberation.
“We feel that current trends are inclined towards achieving Malay unity and we feel the call to further strengthen this objective. Now is the time to act collectively and the time to end all accusations and allegations. We should not be wasting time on trivial matters and mere rhetoric,” he said.
Ruslan said resignation letters from the 12 leaders were tendered to Keadilan president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at noon yesterday.
Asked whether he had abandoned the cause for former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Ruslan said “they would cross the bridge when they can go to it.”
Ruslan said Abdullah, who is also acting Umno president, had welcomed them with open arms and had guaranteed that there would be no conditions attached to their return.
“We are coming back as ordinary members,” he said.
In a statement, Dr Wan Azizah said the defections had been predicted as these members were no longer active and had not given full commitment to the party.
“We feel their leaving will not give any dire effect on us and this is an ordinary event that normally happens each time elections grow close,” she said.