Wan Azizah wades into Sabah PKR row

By Clara Chooi February 02, 2011

Sabah PKR leaders have asked Dr Wan Azizah to take over the state leadership. — file pic KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 — PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has been forced to intervene in the Sabah PKR revolt and will visit the state this weekend in an attempt to resolve the long-drawn crisis. PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution revealed to The Malaysian Insider that the party’s political bureau had agreed to empower Dr Wan Azizah to lead a peace mission to Sabah but the party president will have to tread lightly to avoid causing further upset to the “extremely delicate” situation. Dr Wan Azizah, he said, will form a committee comprising three top Sabah PKR leaders and personally lead the delegation to Sabah on February 6, after the Chinese New Year festivities. The decision, he added, did not mean that the party had rejected or accepted the resolutions signed by 18 of Sabah PKR’s 25 divisions on Tuesday, calling for the removal of newly-elected state chief Pajudin Noordin. “We received the resolutions but the political bureau felt that we should give the party president some time to attempt solving the problems in Sabah. “So Datuk Seri will form a special committee made up of three Sabah leaders and she will personally fly to Sabah to meet with all state leaders next (this) month,” he said when contacted earlier in the week. Saifuddin described the Sabah situation as “delicate”. Saifuddin added that the party had not made any decision yet on Pajudin’s position and will wait for the result of Wan Azizah’s visit. Eighteen Sabah PKR division leaders had submitted a resolution to the party a week ago, calling for the removal of Pajudin as state chief and urging Wan Azizah to take over as an interim leader. “We have not rejected their request per se. We took it into consideration and we came up with several options. “But the situation in Sabah is extremely delicate because we are dealing with a few factions so we need to discuss the matter thoroughly before making any decision,” said Saifuddin. The resolutions were signed by PKR’s Kota Belud, Sepanggar, Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Putatan, Kimanis, Papar, Beaufort, Keningau, Pensiangan, Tenom, Libaran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Semporna, Kalabakan, Tawau and Silam divisions. These were handed over to PKR vice-president Fuziah Salleh, who later presented them during the party’s political bureau meeting on January 26. Pajudin has been accused of being a proxy to Ansari Abdullah, who leads a faction in Sabah PKR, against former state chief Ahmad Thamrin Jaini. The trained teacher was selected as Sabah PKR’s new chief in a surprising move earlier this month, replacing Thamrin, another faction leader and a known foe of Ansari’s, for the post. Pajudin’s appointment had come as a shock as he had not been among those touted as likely to be awarded the post and was also the first Sabah PKR chief who is not a division head. Pajudin, who has claimed to be impartial, was scheduled to reveal a state leadership line-up shortly after his appointment but efforts to unite the state’s divisional chiefs proved futile. The Malaysian Insider understands that many state divisional leaders are doubtful of Pajudin’s proclaimed impartiality and had decided to stay away from his meetings. PKR’s leadership has been accused of favouring Ansari. Many leaders were also unhappy with Pajudin’s appointment and have accused the party leadership of bias towards Ansari, who was selected to as PKR’s candidate in the Batu Sapi by-election last year. During the polls, Thamrin and his men had stayed away from participating in the party’s campaign. “Like I said, it is very delicate. Today, you may have the support of 16 or 17 state chiefs and then suddenly in the next few hours, you are left with 10 supporters,” said Saifuddin. “We cannot blindly make a decision before considering all factors thoroughly,” Sabah PKR was also hit by a spate of resignations earlier this month and the continued bickering among state party leaders is viewed as a likely hindrance to Pakatan Rakyat’s dreams of breaking Barisan Nasional’s hold in East Malaysia in the coming general election. Former vice-president Jeffrey Kitingan, and about 27 members from the state, had quit from PKR and formed a non-political organisation called the United Borneo Front (UBF). Following the Kitingan’s resignation, the state’s leadership tussle continued over who should helm Sabah PKR with factions rallying behind their chosen leaders Ansari and Thamrin.

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