KUALA LUMPUR - Former deputy education minister Saifuddin Abdullah has left Umno to join the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) because of financial scandals involving 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and transfer of funds to the prime minister's personal bank accounts.
Saifuddin Abdullah also attributed his departure from the Malay ruling party to the lack of will to embark on political change and institutional reform, Malaysian Insider reported on Thursday (Oct 15).
"That's why I feel I no longer fit in Umno and BN (Barisan Nasional)," he told a packed news conference at the PKR headquarters.
Saifuddin said he was attracted by PKR's multi-racial model, unlike that of BN, which he claimed practised communal politics, The Star Online reported.
He said other parties had approached him as well but his heart was with PKR.
"I consider this a big decision for a small person such as myself," he was quoted as saying.
He also said that he would tender his resignation as the CEO of Global Movement of Moderation (GMM).
Saifuddin was recently issued a show-cause letter by Umno after he attended a roundtable discussion of the opposition parties at Empire Hotel in Subang on Sept 21, according to The Star Online.
Umno Secretary-General Adnan Tengku Mansor said Saifuddin's motives for attending the meeting, which led to the formation of opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan, were questionable even though he was there in his capacity as a non-government organisation leader.
In the 2013 general election, Saifuddin lost his Temerloh parliamentary seat to opposition party Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS). He also lost his place in the Umno Supreme Council in the party elections the same year.
His departure from Umno comes as Najib faces intense pressure arising from the alleged financial mismanagement of state investor 1MDB, which has debts of over US$11 billion (S$15.2 billion), and a sum of RM2.6 billion (S$963 million) that was deposited into his personal accounts.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said results of investigations found that the money in Najib's personal accounts was a "donor's contribution". It did not elaborate on the donor or why the money was transferred to Najib's accounts.