PKR lawmaker William Leong recounted how a Buddhist monk had set himself on fire to put his message across.

Though the Selayang MP is not contemplating dousing himself in flammable liquid, he is, however, prepared to see his political career reduced to ashes because of principles.

In an interview with Malaysiakini today, Leong said there is no room for reconsideration with regard to his decision to quit PKR’s political bureau over the continued negotiations with PAS.

“If I am serious about underscoring what this issue is about. I can’t say tomorrow that I have changed my mind. I can’t kill myself but I can burn my political career, ” he said.

Leong is hoping that his decision would convince the PKR leadership to reconsider working with PAS.

“It is not like a demand or blackmail – it is made on the basis to tell PKR that this is an important issue, and they have to think about it again,” he explained.

The 60-year-old two-term parliamentarian stressed that while making compromises is important in politics, it, however, should be premised on principles.

“In 2008, the compromise came from PAS – they decided to change to a ‘welfare state’ (from the earlier objective of setting up an Islamic state).

“However, now they have taken it back. Right now, there is no concession and it is not indicated that there is going to be any change in their position,” he pointed out.

‘PKR cannot sacrifice its principles’

Leong said PKR cannot sacrifice its principles for the sake of winning the coming general election.

“People will say that you don’t stand for anything.

“For the last 14 years, PAS has stood for what they have said. They have the courage to do this. I personally think that PKR should take that step as well,” he added.

Over the past two years, Leong said, PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and her deputy Azmin Ali were prepared to make compromises in relation to PAS, and this was at a great price.

“We can’t compromise the dignity of the people who voted for us. Fifty-two percent of the people voted for the principles we stand up for and we have to defend that dignity,” he added.

Leong pointed out that multiple discussions on forming an electoral pact or understanding with PAS has not yielded positive results and now, the next general election is around the corner.

“Time is drawing close. We have to sort out the seats, policies and election candidates. If we continue to keep these things on hold, we won’t be ready for the election if it happens tomorrow.

“Somewhere along the line, there must be a deadline. To me it (the deadline) has passed so many times,” he said.

Responding to a question, Leong said he would not quit as a PKR member because there is still much for him to do.

“I am still a member of PKR’s central leadership council (MPP). I still want to be able to go there and express my views. (Quitting the political bureau) is just the first step,” he said.

Leong also said he does not want others to follow in his footsteps of quitting the political bureau.

“It is not good for the party. For me, I have reached the stage where people should be thinking about retirement. There are also people who are able to take over.

“This is not something that young people who have talents should do,” he added.

The PKR lawmaker also reiterated that he does not wish to contest the next general election, saying that having served two-terms is enough for him.

Asked about his future plans, Leong said he would spend more time with his family and concentrate on his law firm.

– M’kini