Sabah PKR splits over ‘outsider’

(Malaysian Mirror) – There is growing discontent among PKR members over the appointment of an ‘outsider’ to head the party in Sabah and this has led to a split in the leadership.

On one side, vice-president Dr Jeffrey Kitingan (pic, right) is claiming that 18 leaders of the party’s 23 active divisions are against Azmin Ali (pic, left), a fellow veep, being appointed the state liaison chief.

Refuting this claim, however, PKR deputy state chief Dr Hamzah Amir said the matter is a ‘non-issue’ as 15 division chiefs who had purportedly signed a memorandum  against Azmin had since disassociated themselves from it.

There had been reports that more than half of the 25 PKR division leaders in Sabah had wanted Azmin replaced with a local state leader. Among the names suggested were Dr Jeffrey and Dr Hamzah. Another name mentioned was  as state party chief.

azmin ali.jpgMemorandum names ‘acceptable’ leaders

In the memorandum, the division leaders had proposed the names of three leaders, including Dr Jeffrey and Dr Hamzah. The third person named is another Sabah PKR deputy chief, Kong Hong Ming.

In March, PKR de facto head Anwar Ibrahim has put himself as the party chairman in Sarawak and Sabah. Although he is considered an ‘outsider’ – he is not a resident of either state – he was accepted on account of his charismatic presence.

Two months later, however, citing heavy commitments at home and abroad, he stepped down and appointed two persons to replace him – Azmin in Sabah and fellow vice-president Mustaffa Kamil Ayub in Sarawak.

A Sarawak political writer wrote in the Malaysian Mirror on Oct 12 (Appointing ‘outsiders’: Wrong move by PKR) that Annwar should have allowed senior PKR leaders to elect an acceptable local leader from among themselves to lead their respective state committees in Sarawak and Sabah.

“Granted, they may have differences among themselves (isn’t that normal in politics?) but a local leader, and not an outsider, would still be the more preferred and acceptable choice,” writer Paul Sir commented in the article, which first appeared in the Borneo Post.

Comparing the PKR with the DAP, he said the latter had  done well in that their leaders in Sabah and Sarawak are all locals.

Reports of rift dismissed

Dr Jeffrey said the memorandum protesting Azmin’s appointment was sent to Anwar “some time ago.”

However, he told The Star, that the issue is not whether the appointment is accepted.

“It is about bout certain decisions he made,” he told the paper when met at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, where he received former cabinet minister and PKR member Zaid Ibrahim Saturday.tian-chua-1.png

Dr Jeffrey said the decisions of state liaison leaders should be made after consultation with division chiefs and not be “shoved down the throats of division leaders.”

Dr Hamzah dismissed reports  a rift among state party leaders following Azmin’s appointment as state chief.

In another PKR development, Zaid said that while he is currently on a six-month leave from the party’s political bureau, he would still be involved in other party matters.

To a question, he reaffirmed he had been asked by Anwar to skip a Hari Raya gathering organized by the PKR Putatan division here on Saturday but decided to attend it anyway.

He said he would explain his reasons for ignoring Anwar’s request later.

In KUALA LUMPUR, PKR strategy director Tian Chua (pic) declined to comment on speculations that Zaid took leave following a disagreement with Azmin.

He said, however, he was confident Zaid would continue to carry out duties assigned to him by the party.