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Permatang Pauh's Arif Shah on the verge of joining Pakatan - malaysiakini

Malaysiakini's report:

Pakatan Rakyat today opened its doors to Umno state assemblyperson Arif Shah Omar Shah, who contested against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim in the Permatang Pauh by-election, to join the opposition alliance.

This comes in the wake of a media report quoting Arif Shah, the Seberang Jaya state representative, of not ruling out the possibility of joining the opposition after expressing disappointment with his party.

pkr national congress 301108 lim guan eng pcExtending the invitation, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said: "Pakatan would welcome any Malaysian who supports the principles of Pakatan to join us.

"Anyone who joins us should join on these principles," the DAP secretary-general told reporters at the sidelines of the PKR congress in Kuala Lumpur today.

He said these principles include the common goal for social and economic justice.

Alleged 'abuses of power'

Lim was asked to comment on a New Straits Times report today quoting Arif Shah as saying that he was now at crossroads between staying in Umno or joining the Pakatan-led state government.

According to the two-term state assemblyperson, he was seriously considering his future in Umno following what he described as 'blatant power abuses' by the Umno Permatang Pauh division leadership.

arif shah omar shah pc 040808 01Arif Shah further claimed in the report that he could not longer stand the alleged abuses by division chief Abdul Jalil Abdul Majid, including the alleged measures taken to demoralise him and denying him the position as a state assemblyperson.

However, Abdul Jalil told the English daily that he is not aware of the problems cited by Arif Shah.

It is common knowledge within the Penang Umno leadership that both Abdul Jalil - a former Penanti state assemblyperson - and Arif Shah do not see eye to eye.

Arif Shah shot to fame in August when he was picked to contest against Anwar in the Permatang Pauh by-election.

He was defeated by the opposition leader with a thumping majority of 15,671-majority votes.

Penang PKR chief Zahrain Mohamed Hashim also welcomed Arif Shah's intention to join the opposition.

"If he wants to join us, we welcome him but he must share the aspirations of PKR. As far as I know, he has been doing his job as a state assemblyperson," Zahrain told Malaysiakini.

The Bayan Baru MP, however, denied knowledge of any offer made to Arif Shah to join the party.

'30 percent chance'

Contacted this afternoon, Arif Shah revealed that there is a 30 percent chance of him joining the opposition with PKR being the party of his choice.

"I have to discuss with Guan Eng first as I want him to feel comfortable (about me joining Pakatan)," he said.

"The PKR (Penang leaders) offered me (to join), they are welcoming me but it is not an easy decision, there are many things to sort out and I have face them to one by one," he added.

Asked if he will raise his problems with Abdul Jalil with Umno national leaders, Arif Shah said he will talk to the national leadership in the event if he decides to leave.

Elaborating on the reasons which have prompted him to consider crossing over, Arif Shah said the alleged ‘abuses of power’ by Abdul Jalil have limited him from carrying out his role as a state representative.

"There are a lot of things that I have to go through him (Abdul Jalil) even if it is in my constituency, I can't go straight to the Umno branch leaders.

"To me, if people need my service, regardless if they are Malay, Chinese or Indian, I will have to help them," he stressed.

Asked if PKR has offered him any post, he replied: "That is not important, I need a platform to deliver my service."

However, he said it will “take some time” to make the final decision -