Reject drinking candidate, Umno tells voters

By Adib Zalkapli

KUALA KUBU BARU, April 19 — The Barisan Nasional (BN) campaign in the Hulu Selangor by-election continued to focus on PKR’s candidate Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s past drinking habit.

Speakers at an Umno Youth-organised public rally, “Pentas Pemuda” here last night told hundreds of party supporters that the former law minister is not fit to hold public office because of his habit.

The attack came just hours after Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said that the Malay party should not be linked to the accusation made against Zahid.

The ruling party leaders also accused Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as being under the control of DAP for supporting Zaid as the by-election candidate.

“When Pak Lah appointed him minister I got angry with Pak Lah, I told him I know Zaid well, he was my classmate, he drinks and he gets drunk,” said Seremban Umno chief Datuk Ishak Ismail who was one of the speakers at the rally held in the town centre.

Zaid was made minister in the prime minister’s department after Election 2008, but resigned six months later to protest the ISA arrest of Selangor executive council Teresa Kok, blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin and journalist Tan Hoon Cheng.

Ishak claimed PKR was forced to support Zaid’s candidacy because of pressure from DAP as the leading member of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

While an Umno Youth leader from the movement’s orators unit Halim Tuah told party loyalists that PKR has insulted the voters for nominating the former Kota Baru MP.

“PKR has presented a candidate who is a drunkard, an alcoholic, there is a mini bar in his house where beer and whisky are served,” said Halim to loud cheers from the crowd.

“If you don’t believe me, you go meet him you can smell from his breath,” Halim added.

Former Penang Deputy Chief Minister Fairus Khairuddin also spoke at the rally where he questioned Zaid’s commitment to PKR as he was not involved in the Reformasi movement launched for Anwar after his sacking from the government in the 1998.

Fairus who resigned from the Penang government last year amid described Zaid as a “corrupt Malay.”

“We know him inside out,” said the former Penanti assemblyman who joined Umno in February this year.

Zaid had recently admitted to having consumed alcohol in the past adding that he had already repented.

“I have admitted it. That’s the thing with me — I am a straightforward person. If I made a mistake, I will admit to it. I will apologise for it if I need to,” Zaid told the media yesterday in an attempt to end the character assassination by his former party colleagues.

Zaid is facing BN’s P Kalamanathan and independents V.S. Chandran and Johan Md Diah in the by-election for 64,500 eligible voters.

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