Team Rafizi-Anwar fast losing ground

TTF: The PKR deputy presidency race has caused a bad split within the party, with Members of Parliament (MPs) seen aligned with Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim rumoured to have shifted their gaze towards his onetime loyalist-turned-arch-nemesis, Dato’ Seri Azmin Ali.

According to one of these MPs (who spoke to TTF on condition of anonymity), the general consensus is that Azmin will end up playing a pivotal role in a unity coalition led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad with Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim cast firmly to the sidelines.

It is now uncertain if Anwar will be able to muster enough support to bring 20 of these MPs to his side of the isle.

According to the informant, many of his comrades from Sabah and Sarawak did not believe that a PKR-PAS-UMNO unity coalition could ever materialise given that Dato’ Seri Haji Abdul Hadi Awang is dead against the idea.

TTF is made to understand that Azmin has already received commitments from some 28 or so MPs to Mahathir’s cause irrespective if Rafizi Ramli wins the PKR deputy presidency or otherwise.

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah PKR polls this weekend is key in determining whether incumbent Datuk Seri Azmin Ali or challenger Rafizi Ramli is the party’s next deputy president in the “New Malaysia”.

With 147,000 members, Sabah PKR has the second largest membership base after Selangor, and nearly three times Sarawak’s 56,000 base, making them vital for the two deputy presidential candidates in the most intense polls the party has seen.

Sabah’s voters are expected to deliver a decisive outcome in the race that has seen Azmin and Rafizi go neck to neck. But they are Rafizi’s best chance to surge forward in this heated race that has also been wracked with violence and allegations of bribery and sabotage in peninsular Malaysia.

“We may not be the last state to vote, but we are a pivotal one,” said a PKR source.

“The problem is that it’s about evenly split, so it’s hard to tell for sure,” he added.

However, insiders in Rafizi’s camp are confident that the incumbent vice-president has the edge, earning the trust of at least 70 per cent of the voters.

An early survey by Invoke, a research outfit linked to Rafizi, indicated possible victories in 12 divisions, while Azmin is expected to take eight. The other five are considered “grey” areas which can swing either way.

Although party leaders are not expecting more than a 50 per cent voter turnout, it will still be considered a tight race as the two contenders have their own local people pulling the weight in their corner.

State PKR chief Christina Liew has been publicly diplomatic about the tussle for the deputy president post. But she is seen to be throwing her weight behind Rafizi by following him on his campaign trail across Sabah, alongside outgoing party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Sabah PKR youth chief Raymond Ahuar is also behind Rafizi.

Azmin, who last came to Sabah for the September 16 Malaysia Day celebrations, has former Inanam MP and Sepanggar division chief Dr Roland Chia and PKR Tawau division chief Datuk Kong Hong Ming plus other national leaders stumping for him without him being here.

“In Azmin’s camp, they are relying on his track record — former mentri besar of Selangor, Economic Affairs Minister and a steady elected representative all this while — he represents a solid front.

“Rafizi’s call to arms is more reforms and no more money politics. He also touts his lack of political baggage, not having any ties to a government post,” said another political observer.

Both sources said that despite no evidence, money politics was definitely a part of the game here in Sabah, due to the high stakes.

“Rafizi’s camp in particular needs as many votes as they can get. They need to win by at least 2,000 to be safe. Most of Sarawak is expected to favour Azmin, although Julau MP Larry Sng and his father might pick up some votes for Rafizi.

“Even if Azmin loses, he just has to make sure the margin is not too big — he has about 1,500-vote margin that will see him cross the finish line ahead of Rafizi,” said the source.

Azmin is currently leading in the polls, but not by a big margin.

Sabah PKR members in 25 divisions will vote this November 3 and 4 while Sarawak, with about 54,000 members in 29 divisions, will be the last to vote on November 10.

Meanwhile, 21 out of 25 division heads will be facing challenges for their post, with a seven-corner fight in Silam.

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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