Malaysia was thrown into a state of confusion and political instability this week, when Dr Mahathir Mohamad abruptly announced his resignation as Prime Minister on Monday, and subsequently got appointed as Interim Prime Minister. And now we don’t have a government, even. And that all started with the now infamous Sheraton Move, which resulted in former Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali was fired from PKR, taking 10 other people with him.
However, Azmin and co’s exit from PKR seemed to be an expectation for a long time coming, given that he’s been butting heads with PKR president Anwar Ibrahim for quite some time now. And the party infighting could’ve come to an end when Azmin and his pals finally bade their farewells. These 11 people have since been branded as “traitors” by some.
But actually right, how
many of these guys do you really know?
We’re guessing there are a few gaps in knowledge here, so without further ado… let’s introduce you to Azmin’s 11!
1. Baru Bian, the only MP CILISOS has traveled with
Haiya basket… first one also jialat adi.
Before he was a politician, Baru was a lawyer. In 1990, he made partner in his own law firm, Messrs Anthony Ting, Baru Bian & Co. As someone from the Lun Bawang community, he was especially active in advocating for Native Customary Rights.
While still practicing law, Baru participated in politics when he joined the now defunct-Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS), a party that advocated for Orang Asal rights. But his membership in PBDS didn’t quite work out as later on, PBDS decided to enter an alliance with BN and one of the conditions for the party to join was to stop bringing up NCR issues in the state government. He later went on to become a part of the Sarawak National Party, also defunct now, but then decided to retire from politics after he lost three consecutive elections.
But that didn’t last long, as Baru came out of retirement after watching BN win GE12 and joined PKR, soon becoming PKR Sarawak chairman and tasting victory when he won a seat in the 2011 Sarawak state by-election. In 2016, CILISOS got the rare opportunity to travel with Baru Bian as he campaigned in Bakelalan. Here’s a quote from his wife on that trip.
“He earns only RM15,000 a month as an ADUN and gets zero grants from the government. So the only way we can do any good here is through generous donations” – Ching Sieu, Baru Bian’s wife.
After GE14 that all changed though, he contested for the seat of Selangau against BN due to Orang Asal issues. After the GE14 upset, he was elected as the Works Minister, making history as the first from the Lun Bawang community to be appointed minister.
““Everyone in PKR are my people and I have no problems with him (Baru). Although I can decide on who should hold the position, I prefer to do it in a democratic way – where I respect the voices of the majority.” – Anwar to reporters after Baru Bian’s absence at the event in 2019
2. Zuraida Kamaruddin, rumoured to join BERSATU with Azmin in.. 2018?
Zuraida Kamaruddin started her political career in PKR in 2008 when she won the Ampang seat. However, since then, she’s been seen to align herself closely with Azmin. Unlike Azmin who started his political career at a very young age, Zuraida was apparently in the private sector before joining politics.
She had roles in various companies like Chuo Senko Advertising, Petronas, and Shin-Etsu. She is also the founder and president of the Women’s Institute Research Development and Advancement (WIRDA), an institute that provides counseling and protection to single mothers, youths, refugees, and Muslim converts. And according to some, she’s always had the advantage on the grassroots level.
“She is and has always been fierce, even since back then. If people think they should be scared of the Otai Reformis 98, let me tell you that Zuraida is even more dangerous than them because she has actual support. The grassroots are her advantage. How many political leaders can say the same about themselves?” – PKR insider, as quoted by NST
She would end up joining PKR around 2008 and ran for the Ampang MP seat in GE12 and won. Since then, she’s retained the Ampang seat for the other two general elections. After PH won majority in GE14, she was elevated to the position of Housing and Local Government Minister. She was also the leader of the PH Women’s Wing.
Back in 2018, there were already rumours of Azmin moving to BERSATU with 18 other MPs including Zuraida, but she denied them. More recently though, she’s been increasingly vocal in her support for Azmin to the point of saying she and Azmin were ready to be sacked from the party. And, um, well, guess they were good to be prepared because they were sacked this week.
3. Saifuddin Abdullah, the former moderate UMNO guy
According to Saifuddin himself, he began his political career as youth activist in school by joining rallies and reading about idealism, where he apparently once staged a demonstration in high school. And then he went on to become a student affairs officer in the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM), where he’d be responsible for scheduling student body elections and faculty elections.
“Back then, student leaders were expected to speak out on national issues and not just campus issues. If you didn’t speak or did not make your position known in certain contemporary issues that was of national concern, it was as if you were not there.” – Saifuddin, as quoted by Poskod.my
He became an active member of UMNO in 1986, contesting for the first time for the Temerloh seat in GE12 as an UMNO Supreme Council member – not only did he won, he was also immediately appointed as the Deputy Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister, going on to become the Deputy Higher Education Minister. During his tenure as an UMNO member, Saifuddin’s been known to have more moderate views compared to his colleagues, occasionally criticizing his own party for being too conservative.
And apparently, the 1MDB scandal was the final straw, and he left UMNO in 2015 to join PKR, immediately becoming the then-opposition’s Chief Secretary. Things seemed to be smooth sailing, as he later became the PKR MP for Indera Mahkota and the Foreign Affairs Minister after GE14. He was also one of the MPs who signed a joint statement criticizing Anwar for not standing by Azmin during the sex scandal.
4. Kamarudin Jaffar, Anwar’s buddy until Azmin’s tape scandal
It’s believed that Kamarudin started his political career when he joined Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) under Anwar’s leadership between 1974 and 1982, and struck a close friendship with him. And when Anwar himself joined UMNO in 1982, it seemed as though Kamarudin joined the party around this time as well.
He rose through the ranks and ended up becoming the political secretary of then-Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Ghafar Baba from 1986 to 1991. For a time, he served as UMNO Youth exco and Kelantan chief, until he switched over to PAS in 1999. That worked out for awhile, as he became the Tumpat MP as a PAS member and has retained his seat since then. However, in 2015, PAS was rife with internal struggles, driving Kamarudin to leave PAS and join the party his close friend founded, PKR.
But he didn’t bring his voters with him though, as Tumpat stayed with PAS in GE14, while Kamarudin himself won in Bandar Tun Razak as a PKR member. Not only that, for the first time, he was appointed the Deputy Transport Minister. Despite his longstanding friendship with Anwar, it seemed to have come to an end when, like many others, Kamarudin signed a statement criticizing Anwar for calling for Azmin’s resignation after Azmin’s sex-tape scandal.
5. Mansor Othman, founder of PKR Penang
Mansor Othman is another MP who started his political career by becoming Anwar’s political secretary while the latter was still Deputy Prime Minister in 1996.
However, when Anwar was imprisoned in 1998, Mansor went to Penang and became one of the founders of the PKR branch in Penang. In the 2009 state by-election, he was chosen to run as a state assemblyman of Penang under PKR and won, becoming Penang’s Chief Minister for the next five years. And then he went on to run for the parliamentary seat of Nibong Tebal in GE13, managing to wrestle the seat away from the BN contestant – he’s been retaining the seat since then.
Even though he started off with Anwar, he’s been pretty loyal to Azmin since the beginning of the rift, from signing a statement to criticize Anwar to organizing meetings secretly with the former PKR vice-president.
6. Rashid Hasnon, new ‘kid’ on the block
Just like Zuraida, Rashid was in the private sector before he was a politician, working as an engineer in various companies and even establishing his own company in providing skills training and audit services once. He eventually entered politics by joining Gerakan Penang and becoming its chairman in 1999.
However, he seemed to have moved on and founded the PKR branch in Penang alongside Mansor, holding the position of the party’s national treasurer in 2001. But he only started contesting in GE13 over a state assemblyman seat in Penang and won, and later became a Deputy Chief Minister as well. During GE14, he relinquished the position and went on to contest for the Batu Pahat parliamentary seat, which he also won.
When Anwar advised for Azmin to resign after it was alleged that he had sex with a PKR aide, Rashid was one of those who criticized Anwar for it. He also currently serves as a Deputy Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, alongside DAP’s Nga Kor Ming.
7. Edmund Santhara Kumar, Malaysia’s wealthiest MP
It probably comes to no surprise that Edmund’s the “wealthiest MP“, among others, as he was also in the private sector prior. He’s the founder of Masterskill Education Group, which is said to be Malaysia’s largest operator of non-governmental nursing institutions. He’s apparently very much dedicated to improving the educational levels in Malaysia, due to his upbringing in the estates where his parents worked as rubber tappers.
“I used to get caned for going to school late. It was pure hardship, living from day to day. Education was my only way out (of the estates).” – Edmund, as quoted by The Star
It’s believed that he entered politics when he stepped down from Masterskill and ran as an independent candidate in GE13 for the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat, but unfortunately, he only gained 999 votes. It’s unclear as to when he entered PKR, but it’s probably while Anwar was in jail and Azmin still served as PKR leader. Under the PKR banner, Edmund contested in the Segamat constituency, and edged out the BN candidate who’d held on to the seat for 14 years.
When Anwar’s released from jail after GE14 and announced a new PKR leadership lineup, Edmund had seemingly performed so well that he’s appointed deputy secretary-general under Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, who’s in Team Anwar. It’s already been said back in 2018 that Edmund’s on Team Azmin, even before the feud. So now, as Azmin’s been sacked from the party, Edmund had followed along.
8. Ali Biju, the giant-slayer from Sarawak
To be honest, not much can be found about Ali Biju, despite us wearing the virtual snorkels and doing a deep dive on Google – this writer even tried Yahoo and Bing, but no dice.
What we do know is that he started making a name for himself as a politician when he contested against PDP deputy president Peter Nyarok and won the state assembly seat of Krian in 2011 under PKR, and has retained the seat since then. He did it again in the Saratok parliamentary seat in GE14, and is now an independent Saratok MP, given that he’s quit PKR alongside 10 other MPs.
When Anwar announced a new leadership lineup for PKR after his release from prison, Ali was named one of PKR vice-presidents. There was even a time when he’s considered for a position in the Cabinet, but that didn’t work out in the end.
9. Willie Mongin, the MP who insists people don’t call him YB
Willie Mongin was – dun dun dun – in the private sector previously, specializing in IT. But his interest in politics started much earlier than that, as he was apparently an Anwar supporter and would often attend demonstrations and political ceramahs in KL, mingling with the likes of Tian Chua. He joined PKR in 2009 after being convinced by Sarawak PKR leaders.
However, he only decided to be more politically active in 2011, when he resigned from the private sector to contest for the Bengoh state by-elections, subsequently losing. He lost two more times in Mambong, respectively in 2013 and 2016. It was only when he ran for the Puncak Borneo parliamentary seat in GE14 that he finally had a taste of victory. Even though he won, he’d insisted that people not call him Yang Berhormat.
“I request the public not to address me as ‘Yang Berhormat’. Just call me ‘Willie’.” – Willie, as quoted by The Star
Still, despite him having started out as an Anwar supporter, that soon went down the drain after Anwar called for Azmin’s resignation for the sex scandal. Instead of just signing a statement, he even personally told Anwar that he shouldn’t have sidelined Azmin like that. Speaking of which…
10. Azmin Ali, former Anwar loyalist, and Mahathir’s ‘anak angkat’
Believe it or not, he got his start as a politician as Mahathir’s “anak angkat“, when Mahathir apparently handpicked him for the job as Anwar’s Special Officer when he was still the Education Minister in 1987. From then on, Azmin and Anwar built a close bond as Azmin went on to become Anwar’s private secretary.
And when Mahathir threw Anwar into jail in 1998, Azmin went on to become one of the founders of PKR. In 1998, he gave an interview saying that he believed Tun M had ‘changed’, and that he was no longer on good terms with him.
“Sebab itu kita tahu tentang peristiwa pemecatan tahun 1998 agak awal kerana bila kita tengok sikap Dr Mahathir ketika itu boleh nampak perubahan yang berlaku,” Azmin Ali about Mahathir in a 2013 interview, Yahoo News
During Anwar’s incarceration, Azmin forged his own political path by becoming the state assemblyman of Hulu Kelang in 1999, and Gombak MP and Bukit Antarabangsa state assemblyman in 2008. And then in 2014, he was appointed as Selangor Chief Minister under controversial circumstances during the predecessor of the Sheraton Move, known as the Kajang Move (a somewhat failed attempt to install Anwar as Selangor MB over Khalid Ibrahim). He only reunited with Mahathir with Anwar’s blessing 17 years later in 2015, but soon rose back to favour with Tun M to his most prominent position: Economic Affairs Minister.
“Anwar dan Azmin mesti berundur kerana mereka punca segala masalah (dalam PKR).” – Zaid Ibrahim to Malaysiakini in 2010
Ironically, Azmin ended up in a sex scandal of his own. There were also rumors of him attempting to form a backdoor government with Mahathir to oust Anwar, but he’d denied it repeatedly, and arguably still does.
11? Jonathan Yasin, er… tbc
So what we could find about Jonathan is that he was already a PKR member when he first contested in Ranau and lost in GE12 – he also lost in GE13. It’s only in GE14 that he finally won, barely edging out his competitor. And like others, the first indication of his allegiance to Azmin was when he signed the statement criticizing Anwar.
But here’s where it gets interesting. During the whole thing with Azmin’s sacking from PKR, followed other MPs leaving with him, Jonathan was apparently included in the list of MPs leaving. Later on, he posted a Facebook post denying that he’d left PKR, a post that he’d deleted since. And then, PKR itself has confirmed that Jonathan’s still in the party, but he’ll be facing PKR’s central disciplinary board soon. So, things are kinda confusing for Jonathan now.
Now, they’re mostly apparently in PPBM
At the time of writing, it’s been reported that Azmin and those who left with him have now joined PPBM – except for Jonathan Yasin – so they’re now in the same party as Mahathir. This also makes Edmund Bersatu’s first non-Bumi and non-Muslim member.
After they’d been branded “traitors” after their departure, they’d claimed that their actions were meant to protect Mahathir from being undermined by PH. Azmin and co even turned the gun around on the now collapsing PH, claiming that those who’d been pressuring Mahathir to hand over the premiership to Anwar were the real traitors.
“Those who try to oust the prime minister are the actual traitors because they are more concerned with the transition of power being implemented instead of executing policies needed to strengthen the economy and improve the people’s wellbeing.
In this respect, we have taken proactive measures to thwart attempts to topple the prime minister.” – Azmin and co, as quoted by NST
While these MPs have found a new home, our country’s still in the middle of a political upheaval. Mahathir’s recently proposed for a unity government, as in the government won’t be made out of parties, but just of individuals doing their jobs, but it’s not exactly a popular option for some. He actually also announced a special Parliament sitting on the 2nd of March, 2020 to determine our future la, but the Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Yusof quickly shut it down, saying that Mahathir’s announcement didn’t follow protocol.
So much like the careers of these 11 politicians, the state of the nation is still very much up in the air at the moment.
This article was written by Nicole Ng, and then manically edited by Chak