New Penang PKR chief on a mission to reinvigorate party

PKR’s Bakthiar Wan Chik (in blue) speaking to recipients of zakat (tithes) in Balik Pulau, Penang, on Monday.

GEORGE TOWN: A PKR leader who was given the reins to take care of the party in Penang recently said unifying the veterans with the youth and women wings will be his key agenda in reinvigorating the party.

Balik Pulau MP Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, who was entrusted to lead Penang PKR after Nurul Izzah Anwar announced that she was resigning from all posts, said it was time to put the past behind and focus on what was ahead.

“It is time to drown out the noise and put the bad things behind us and start anew,” Bakthiar, who is also deputy tourism, arts and culture minister said.

He spoke to FMT on the sidelines of a zakat handover ceremony at SK Kongsi in Balik Pulau on Monday.

He said as a multiracial party with slightly over 55,000 members in Penang alone, PKR’s standing in the state was good. He said the testament to that was the clean sweep of all 14 state seats and four parliamentary seats it contested in last year’s general election.

Bakthiar said as part of his unity agenda, he planned to bridge the old members with the new, bettering their welfare and recognising their contribution to the party from the Reformasi days in 1998.

Balik Pulau MP Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik

He said the old-timers deserved “a medal or two” while the newer, younger members needed to be groomed to be next-generation leaders to invigorate the party.

“It is time for us to move on and do our job as party members, which is to serve the rakyat. I also see our young members, especially the women, hold tremendous potential in spearheading Penang PKR,” he said.

Bakthiar, who is also Balik Pulau division chief, was made acting Penang PKR chief on Jan 14, with Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin as his deputy. Sim is deputy agriculture and agro-based industry minister.

Deputy Chief Minister I Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman was appointed state PKR vice-chairman.

Zulkifli Saad was retained as secretary and Penang Island city councillor Francis Joseph as treasurer.

The post of state PKR chief became vacant following Nurul Izzah’s decision last month to relinquish all party positions. Nurul, who is Permatang Pauh MP, had said she would be an ordinary party member beginning Dec 17.