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Permatang Pauh's Arif Shah blasted, told to 'quit party' - malaysiakini

Malaysiakini's report:

Embattled Seberang Jaya state assemblyperson Arif Shah Omar Shah came under renewed pressure from Penang Umno leadership over his flirtations with opposition party PKR.

Tasek Gelugor Umno division deputy chief Jasmin Mohamed said that Arif Shah should quit his state seat if he was eager to join PKR.

Jasmin's reasoning is that Arif Shah had won the seat under the Umno banner in the last general election.

"He should not be a hypocrite by safekeeping an Umno seat after jumping to another party.

"He should quit and seek a by-election to win it back," said Jasmin, who is also the Sungai Dua state assemblyperson.

arif shah omar shah pc 040808 01Jasmin said that Arif Shah was an ambitious politician who had lost his political clout in his Permatang Pauh division. Penang Umno has 11 assemblypersons against Pakatan Rakyat's 29.

Since defeating PKR's Ramli Bulat by a narrow 533-vote margin to retain his Seberang Jaya seat in March polls, Seri Kalui Umno branch chief Arif Shah political fortune has nosedived.

He lost to PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim in the Permatang Pauh by-election on Aug 26.

Battle for the Permatang Pauh division

And in the recently hotly contested Permatang Pauh division leadership battle, Arif Shah garnered 84 votes to finish a distant third behind Abdul Jalil Abdul Majid (162 votes) and former National Mosque Imam and 2008 Permatang Pauh parliamentary candidate Pirdaus Ismail (144 votes).

He then claimed political differences with the 54-year-old division chief Abdul Jalil as the main reason for him to consider joining Pakatan Rakyat with PKR as his first choice.

However, Umno president and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday that Arif Shah remained an Umno member and had no intention to join any other party.

"He came to meet me yesterday. He explained to me that he has no intention to join another political party.

"He remains as an Umno member and will be an Umno state assemblyperson," said Abdullah after chairing the Umno Supreme Council meeting last night.

Playing a sandiwara

An unimpressed Jasmin, however, rebuked Arif Shah for blaming others for his political shortcomings and criticised the politician for staging a 'drama' to justify his flirtation with a rival party.

Jasmin said that as a seasoned politician Arif Shah should have envisaged the political backlash when he lost the 'winner-take-all' Permatang Pauh division leadership battle.

"It's common in politics for the winner to sideline and isolate the losers.

"I don't understand what Arif Shah's fuss is all about," he said, chiding the Seberang Jaya legislator for making Abdul Jalil a scapegoat to 'cover up' his ambitious political foray.

"If he is loyal to his party, he would take political challenges on his stride," added Jasmin.

When contacted by Malaysiakini, Abdul Jalil denied having differences or ill-feeling against Arif Shah, and criticised the latter for blowing up petty issues to invoke party sympathy.

"If he wants to jump, just jump. Don't make me a scapegoat. He should blame others for his misery," he said.

State Umno secretary Azhar Ibrahim is meanwhile expected to meet Arif Shah in a day or two to trash out matters and resolve the controversy.

"I will only comment after talking to him," said Azhar, the state opposition leader and Penaga assemblyperson -