Azmin more popular than Rafizi in Sarawak, say state PKR leaders

Mohamed Azmin Ali (left) and Rafizi Ramli (right).

PETALING JAYA: A Sarawak PKR leader says Mohamed Azmin Ali stands a better chance of gaining support from state PKR members than his rival for the deputy president’s post, Rafizi Ramli.

Speaking to FMT on the upcoming party polls, Sarawak PKR Youth chief Rafiddin Majidi said Azmin is very popular in the state thanks to his continued support for the Sarawak PKR, particularly in the last general and state elections.

“When we requested for help from the headquarters, there was no answer. Azmin took the initiative to help arrange for logistical and manpower support.

“Sure, Rafizi is more famous on social media and we can’t deny his contributions to the party. But Azmin is closer to the ground,” said Majidi, adding that the former Selangor menteri besar also visited the state more often.

He said many senior party leaders and members in the state had told him they would vote for Azmin, although not necessarily for those aligned to him.

“As far as the deputy president’s post is concerned, most prefer Azmin. For the other positions, it will depend on the individual.”

On Azmin’s controversial remarks in Parliament that the 20% oil royalty promised by Pakatan Harapan was based on profits and not gross revenue, Rafiddin said this wouldn’t be a major factor in the party polls.

“What is more important is whether the government can deliver its manifesto promises within the five years.”

Kuching PKR division chief Simon Siah told FMT that while Rafizi had the support of newer members, most of the 52,000 members in the state preferred Azmin.

He said both Azmin and his ally Zuraida Kamaruddin are popular in Sarawak because they frequently visit the state to help the party members there.

“When we had squabbles with DAP over overlapping seats in the state election, it was Azmin who fought for Sarawak PKR,” said Siah who is also the state PKR deputy youth chief.

“He gave us a lot of autonomy in running the party here, choosing candidates for elections and even having discussions with our Pakatan Harapan partners in the state.”

PKR and DAP had clashed in the run-up to the 2016 Sarawak election, resulting in the coalition partners overlapping in six seats: Mulu, Mambong, Murum, Simanggang, Ngemah and Batu Kitang.

Regardless of who they supported, Siah said PKR leaders should not air their dirty laundry in public. For Sarawak PKR, he added, the priority was winning the next state election.

“If Azmin and Rafizi work together, PKR will be very strong. Based on their track records, many of us believe Azmin should be deputy president but we want them to work together.

“We are looking forward to the next state election and want our national leaders to focus on this. We want to win on our own terms instead of working or forming a pact with Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) as they have been the oppressors. We hope the federal leadership respects us in this matter.”

There had been talk that GPS, which comprises four former Sarawak Barisan Nasional component parties, might seek to join Pakatan Harapan (PH) following its formation. However, Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg dismissed this, saying the ruling coalition would not join PH but would work with the federal government.