‘Wan Azizah should stay as Sabah PKR chief’

Eighteen of the 26 PKR divisons in the state are all for retaining Wan Azizah as the party’s PKR chief.

(Free Malaysia Today) – Eighteen of the 26 PKR divisions in Sabah and Labuan want party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to continue to head the state chapter, at least until the next general election is over.

It comes in the wake of a claim on Sunday that 18 division chiefs reportedly want one of them to be drafted in immediately as the state chief. Wan Azizah assumed the post in January this year and had initially been widely expected to step down three months later.

The newly-discovered level of support for Wan Azizah within Sabah PKR was confirmed by a party veteran who requested anonymity.

“Fifteen of the 18 division chiefs signed a resolution last Friday in Kota Kinabalu, pledging full support for Wan Azizah as interim Sabah chief,” revealed the party veteran.

“That’s why the secret ballot on Wan Azizah’s position, proposed last Friday by a division chief, became a non-issue,”he said.

The veteran leader was clarifying a statement last Sunday by a key PKR insider in Sabah that “party chief Wan Azizah did not allow a secret ballot to be taken on her position as head of the state chapter”.

According to the key insider linked to the 18 division chiefs cited last Sunday, there’s consensus among them to hold a secret ballot soon on whether their party president should continue to head the state chapter.

Meanwhile, the 15 divisions behind Wan Azizah, according to the party veteran, are Tenom, Kimanis, Beluran, Kudat, Beaufort, Sepanggar, Keningau, Kinabatangan, Kota Kinabalu, Papar, Semporna, Labuan, Pensiangan, Penampang and Kalabakan.

Presidential camp

In addition, it’s being claimed that three division chiefs who did not sign the Friday resolution and are aligned to two other camps in Sabah PKR, have since reportedly indicated to the presidential camp that they will support Wan Azizah’s leadership of Sabah.

It was reliably learnt early today that Kota Marudu, one of the three divisions, has since text messaged Wan Azizah to pledge its support.

The president’s people, according to the veteran leader, are keeping their fingers crossed while waiting for the other two division leaders to go public with their stand on Wan Azizah’s leadership role in Sabah.

The nearness of the forthcoming polls and the need to maintain party unity are reportedly among the rationale for the “unflinching” support of the 18 division leaders for the president.

The third reason appears to be that no division leader in Sabah aspiring for the state chief’s post can muster more than five or six divisions behind him. One exception, it’s conceded, was former PKR vice-president Jeffrey Kitingan who was able to call on support from 18 division chiefs including a core group of 14 divisions who never abandoned him.

“From this it can be seen that last Fridays’s meeting in KK has overtaken the competing claims by two factions in Sabah PKR that they have the support of the majority of the divisions in the state chapter,” said the veteran leader.

According to the leader, the support for the rebel factions in the local chapter is at five and six divisions respectively.

The divisions in the group of five rebel chiefs, said the veteran leader, include Kota Belud, Batu Sapi, Kota Marudu (since defected to Azizah), Tuaran and Ranau.

Rebel factions

The divisions in the group of six rebels, it appears, include Silam, Putatan, Libaran, Tawau, Sipitang and Sandakan.

Touching on the autonomy issue raised by the key insider last Sunday, the party veteran said that it was a non-issue considering that “the claimants were silent when Jeffrey was beating the drums of war on autonomy”.

“Now, they – the two rebel factions – appear to have done an about-turn and are both suddenly trying to hijack the autonomy issue for their own self-serving ends,” said the party veteran.

“However, we welcome their change of heart, if genuine, and fully support them on the issue of autonomy.”

Wan Azizah, said the party veteran, has no issues with Sabah and Sarawak having autonomy under a Pakatan Rakyat government or the local chapters of PKR being independent/autonomous.

Asked to elaborate on this statement, the party veteran pointed out that “the party headquarters was still wrestling with the issue of credibility on the autonomy for Sabah and Sarawak”.

He added that “perhaps the national leadership should be given the benefit of the doubt on the autonomy issue and some more time to demonstrate their credibility”.

PKR vice-president Fuziah Salleh has also become another issue among rebel factions in Sabah PKR, said the party veteran.