Despite no-show, Anwar says he and Azmin still a team

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim speaking to reporters in Port Dickson today. He is flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and party secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution.

PORT DICKSON: PKR president Anwar Ibrahim today said he and his deputy, Mohamed Azmin Ali, are still a team as 120 out of 140 party leaders signed a resolution supporting him as the party chief.

“Azmin is the deputy president. We need to work as a team, (having) regular meetings and discussions,” Anwar told reporters after the party retreat here.

Pressed further if Azmin is still part of the team, Anwar said: “He had the mandate in the last party elections.”

This comes after Azmin failed to attend the three-day retreat. The 15-minute slot for his speech last night was taken over by Anwar.

Azmin and party vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin are among the 20 who have yet to sign the resolution supporting Anwar’s leadership. The others who did not attend the retreat included vice-presidents Ali Biju and Baru Bian.

Commenting on the resolutions passed, Anwar said PKR will return to its original idealism to strengthen the party and also make sure the PH manifesto is achieved.

“PKR started as the people’s movement and will remain the people’s party,” he said, adding that those present want it to move forward as a united party.

Another resolution is to ensure PKR remains a multiracial party based on its constitution and the PH manifesto.

Asked about the problems faced by the party, Anwar said the participants at the retreat made it clear they wanted to move on.

“What is clear in my mind is that the spirit and consensus built here are that people want to move on.

“These problems are actually minor and exaggerated to a large extent and being highlighted,” he said, without elaborating.

He said the good work done by PH and PKR, in articulating the reform agenda in Parliament, has not been given prominence.

“The prominence is only on the more negative aspects, so it also our fault because the media would, of course, cherish sensational news,” he said, referring to coverage of the rift between him and Azmin.

Anwar said his advice to the party is to focus on the issues of the rakyat, citing the problems of the urban and rural poor.

“We want to make sure any major programme must take into consideration the interests of the rakyat,” he said.

He said there were plenty of “open discussions” at the retreat, which saw members cementing a closer relationship among themselves.

Azmin absent because of ‘commitments’

Party secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution said he met Azmin last Friday after the Cabinet meeting.

“He said he had some commitments. Others who could not make it sent me emails, and the majority of them gave reasons for not attending,” he said.

Saifuddin said he had tried contacting Azmin’s office and “eventually, when he said he has other commitments, I respect that”.