Not reformist enough? I know who fled in 1998, says Azmin

Mohamed Azmin Ali says he is a true party man who supported Anwar Ibrahim and his Reformasi agenda.

BUTTERWORTH: PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali has hit out at critics who say he is “not reformist enough”, claiming that some of these individuals pulled a disappearing act at the height of the Reformasi period in 1998.

At a rally in Perai here yesterday, Azmin said some of these critics had run off to Indonesia and Australia, fearing a crackdown on the supporters of PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim after he was sacked as deputy prime minister.

“I am not angry at these people, but I am sometimes frustrated. I can list those who fled. And two years after everything subsided, they came back and started thumping their chests, claiming that they were the real reformists.

“Looking back at 1998… where were these ‘pure reformists’ then?

“Today’s Reformasi is in a hall with air-conditioning. But from 1998 to 2000, we were beaten up in the streets. PKR was not born in the palace, but on the streets.”

He also warned such individuals against hijacking the Reformasi agenda out of arrogance and pride.

“If you want to be a good leader, you must not only be street-smart, you must be humble and respect others,” he said.

Mohamed Azmin Ali and top PKR leaders at a party election rally in Seberang Perai last night.

Comparing the Reformasi agenda to a marathon, he said there were no shortcuts.

“We get new people in the party, but we should not forget the senior reformists who toiled to get where we are today.”

Azmin, who is defending his deputy presidency against vice-president Rafizi Ramli in the upcoming party polls, also dismissed claims that he was not loyal to Anwar.

He said the only way to demonstrate loyalty to the president-elect was to further the Reformasi cause championed by Anwar.

“I don’t need to kiss people’s hands and thump my chest to show that I am loyal to Anwar.

“Those who do are without any willpower and are merely following others for the sake of power,” he said.

At a press conference after the event, Azmin was asked his opinion on the decision to field Anwar as the MP for Port Dickson.

He said while his focus was to ensure that the seat remains in Pakatan Harapan’s hands, he hoped all leaders would be kept in the loop on important matters in the future.

“The views by these leaders are serious and ought to be given attention so that the matter can be resolved in the spirit of consensus,” he said.

“We cannot have this oversight happening in the future.”