Penang PKR chief Zahrain Hashim has given a ‘stern fatherly lecture’ to several party division leaders last Sunday to abort their revolt against his leadership. In the three-hour meeting held at Zahrain’s Bayan Baru parliamentary service centre in Bukit Jambul, the PKR state leader had warned stern action against certain rebels for attempting to overthrow him.
Zahrain is said had warned them of breaching party disciplinary rules by holding secret meetings and organising a signature campaign to garner divisional support to stage the mini leadership coup. State executive councilor and Batu Kawan division chief Law Choo Kiang; Jelutong chief Tan Tee Beng; Bukit Bendera chairperson Jason Ong; Bukit Gelugor chief VS Raveentharan; and Bukit Mertajam division chief and Machang Bubok legislator Tan Hock Leong were among those who attended the meeting, which started at 11am.
When contacted, Zahrain however, described the meeting was carried out in a ‘cordial and friendly’ manner. He said he had only discussed current issues with those at the meeting and urged them to raise their grouses through proper party channels. Zahrain is said has hit the roof when he learnt that the rebels had held a secret meeting 10 days ago to discuss the possibility of replacing him with another leader.
Some nine division leaders are said to have attended the secret meeting called upon by leaders of the rebel camp. Among those who attended the meeting with Deputy Chief Minister 1 and Balik Pulau division chairperson Mansor Othman, state executive councilors Law and Abdul Malik Kassim, also the Tanjung division chief. Others were Nibong Tebal division chief and Sungai Bakap assemblyperson Maktar Shapee, Nibong Tebal parliamentarian Tee Beng, Kebun Bunga assemblyperson Jason Ong and Batu Uban state representative Raveentharan. State deputy speaker Hock Leong and Tasek Gelugor chief and Seberang Perai municipality (MPSP) councillor Mahamad Hashim have also attended the meeting.
Only Permatang Pauh division chief and party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Bayan Baru division chief Zahrain, Bagan chief and MPSP councilor Farid Arshad and Kepala Batas leader and councilor Zaini Awang did not attend it. Most of the division leaders however, are learnt had attended the meeting unwittingly. They did not know that the secret meeting was called upon to garner divisional support to overthrow Zahrain. Indeed Mansor, Malik and Law are said have expressed shock and indeed warned the rebelling leaders against any attempt to oust Zahrain, whose relationship with party supremo Anwar Ibrahim goes a long way back.
The secret meeting is said was arranged by a handful of division leaders after their nominees’ applications for the recent state awards, especially for Datukship, were rejected by the state executive council. The upset division leaders have blamed Zahrain, who received ‘Datuk Seri’ title last week, for the rejection. They alleged that Zahrain did not back their nominees, including unlicensed loan sharks ‘Ah Longs’, for the state top awards. PKR sources however, said Zahrain and other top state leaders did not know about the nominations.
The sources said the division leaders have submitted their nominees’ application forms directly to the state executive council, without going through the party leadership. “Zahrain and others were caught unaware. “It is wrong for the rebels to blame him for the rejection,” stressed the high level source. Despite the attempted but unsuccessful coup, Zahrain remained unperturbed. He said he was assured of Anwar’s full backing following a lengthy private conversation with the party supremo over the issue late last week. When asked about it, he said he would serve as PKR state leader at the pleasure of the national leadership.
He also said he would not launch a political vendetta to initiate disciplinary actions on the rebels. “I was appointed by the party president to lead PKR in Penang “Anwar has told me to just ignore these rebels and carry on with my work. “I will continue to serve and lead PKR as long the leadership wants me,” he told Malaysiakini.