Top leader of Malaysia opposition party PKR says to step down in surprise move

Madama Zuraida's announcement was made in a speech at the wing's annual congress in the meeting hall in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Madama Zuraida's announcement was made in a speech at the wing's annual congress in the meeting hall in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.PHOTO: THE STAR

PETALING JAYA - A senior politician in opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Zuraida Kamaruddin, said she will not defend her post as Women wing’s chief at the next party polls in a surprise announcement on Saturday (May 20).

Her announcement was made in a speech at the wing's annual congress in the meeting hall in Petaling Jaya, Selangor. The announcement followed a corruption probe into a Youth leader in her PKR division in Selangor.

Madama Zuraida, 59, is into her 10th year as chief of the wing. 

She helped PKR grew from its birth in 1999 following the Reformasi street protests after the sacking of then-deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.

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The party today leads in governing Malaysia’s richest state Selangor and helps in running the Penang and Kelantan states.

She is the most powerful woman in PKR after its president Wan Azizah Ismail, and Wan Azizah’s daughter and PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar.

Madam Zuraida said in her speech at the wing’s meeting: “It is time for me to hand over the tasks of PKR Women’s chief to Haniza to continue the fight for the women in Keadilan,” referring to deputy Women’s chief, Madam Haniza Mohamed Talha, 55.

“I believe Haniza would give a breath of fresh air and her name would be at par with all the international female leaders in the world.”

PKR Youth leader Adam Rosly, 29, in the Ampang PKR division in Selangor is being probed by the anti-corruption commission after his bungalow with Disneyland turrets and flashy cars grabbed public attention.

Madam Zuraida is not any under any government or party probe.

She had denied that Mr Adam, who is facing six charges under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act, had worked as her aide after growing claims that the accused was a proxy for her.

Asked at a news conference later on Saturday if she was stepping down due to the controversy surrounding Mr Adam, Madam Zuraida replied: “It has nothing to do with him. It is time.”

PKR holds its internal elections every three years, with the next party polls expected to be held next year.

Mr Adam had claimed that he made his wealth through business and a family inheritance.

The PKR annual congress is closely watched as observers are keen to know how the party will handle the move by ally Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) to cut political ties in governing Selangor, yet having its three state Cabinet ministers to continue as usual.