By: JOE FERNANDEZ
SABAH'S PKR top gun apparently, Azmin Ali blew his top over a memorandum from Kota Kinabalu tabled at a party national political bureau meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday which described his leadership performance as ‘shoddy’, according to insiders.
The memorandum was tabled together with a news report on a recent informal meeting of 16 Sabah division chiefs on Tuesday night.
Azmin (left), according to the insiders, wanted the heads of the 16 who had signed the memorandum complaining about "his shoddy performance as Sabah state chief".
They, it was noted, subsequently convened a meeting in Kota Kinabalu on Oct 7 to express "no confidence in his leadership", among others.
"He was throwing tantrums all over the place," said one highly placed source. "Even Ketua Umum (de facto leader) Anwar Ibrahim had a tough time restraining him during the meeting."
It appears that Azmin was blaming almost everybody in Sabah, PKR vice-president Jeffrey Kitingan in particular, except himself for the contents of the memorandum which he strenuously rejected.
At least 16 of the 18 division chiefs who signed the memorandum want Kitingan to replace Azmin as Sabah state chief.
Finally, the meeting resolved that senior PKR leader and lawyer Zaid Ibrahim be dispatched to Sabah on Oct 17 on a trouble-shooting mission ostensibly under the guise of attending a hastily-arranged Aidil Fitri function.
Putting out bushfire
Azmin, according to insider accounts, objected and claimed that Zaid is pro-Kitingan and could not be an honest broker.
The politburo meeting over, Azmin is reportedly still trying to prevent Zaid (left) from turning up in Kota Kinabalu on the scheduled date.
Former MCA chief Chua Jui Meng, now with PKR, is also scheduled to put in a separate appearance in Kota Kinabalu on Oct 23. The details of his visit are not known.
At the meeting the political bureau also directed Azmin to convene the Sabah PKR Leadership Council on Oct 25 and report back the prevailing mood among party leaders and members in the state.
He is expected to work on his exit strategy based on a face-saving formula which the Sabah divisional heads would be asked to propose.
It appears that "Azmin would have to leave Sabah by Christmas at the very latest to stave off an open rebellion which would have political repercussions in neighbouring Sarawak as well".
Azmin had previously explained, not very successfully, that his mandate in Sabah would last until a one-to-one electoral pact was forged among all opposition parties in the state.
The electoral pact seems to be tied up in PKR circles with the question of who would be chief minister of Sabah under a Pakatan Rakyat state government. The Pakatan Sabah state government is expected to be helmed by PKR.
But unfortunately we unable to obtain a copy of the ‘offending’ memorandum.
However, it has been confirmed by two of the divisional chiefs that it indeed contained a litany of complaints against Azmin's leadership amidst concerns over his preferred company of political friends.
Moneybag headache for chiefs
"Yes, we are unhappy that Azmin seems to be in the pocket of Sng Chee Hwa of Sarawak," confirmed both divisional chiefs.
"He turns up at Anwar's house every time with Sng in tow. We don't know what kind of hold Azmin has over Anwar and that disturbs us. Something is just not right here."
Sng was once deputy president of PRS (Parti Rakyat Sarawak) and previously a senior vice-president of the now defunct PBDS (Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak).
He has been bad news in Sabah ever since he was allegedly involved in brokering the crossover of PBS (Parti Bersatu Sabah) state assemblypersons in 1994.
The result was the collapse of the state government and the takeover by Umno when the governor refused to acknowledge a pre-signed order to dissolve the state assembly.
Among other complaints against Azmin in Sabah, it is said that he does not give a hearing to all, and has failed to keep the lines of communication open to prevent misunderstandings.
"He just listens to one or two people in Sabah," agreed the two divisional chiefs. "Even his Aug 2 line-up which he calls a winning team was actually decided by one divisional chief and endorsed by Azmin."
Lone Ranger politics upsetting
"He (Azmin) wouldn't know who to pick in Sabah and who not to pick. The least he could have done was to have consulted all the divisional chiefs for their input."
The political bureau meeting, usually held every Wednesday, was called after an absence of two weeks to discuss Sabah, Sarawak and the recently concluded Bagan Pinang by-elections, among other issues.
The sole representatives from Sabah and Sarawak, Kitingan and lawyer Baru Bian respectively were conspicuously absent.
Kitingan, when contacted, explained his absence as due to his three-month Sabbatical which begins in mid-Oct.
Besides, he complained that "it's not cheap for us in Sabah and Sarawak to turn up every Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur at our expense. We have other bills to worry about".
It is learnt that the national political bureau meeting also discussed news that senior Sarawak PKR leader Gabriel Adit has been roped in by Sng to help form and lead a new political party.
Sng's son, Larry, is a partyless member of the Sarawak state cabinet after a botched attempt to have himself declared as the president of the Dayak-based PRS (Parti Rakyat Sarawak).
Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud plans to reshuffle his state cabinet soon and, according to what the political bureau members learnt, had a meeting on Monday this week with PRS president James Masing on the position of Larry Sng.
The proposed party, Pakatan Rakyat Malaysia, is yet to be registered, the political bureau members learnt.
However, they had disturbing news that "Adit is already going around the longhouses bragging that he will soon be talking to Anwar as an equal" once his new party is set up.
The political bureau members agreed that Anwar should visit Sarawak in the next few days to size up the situation for himself.
It has been reliably learnt that the mood among the politbureau members is in favour of axing Adit as soon as possible.
However, they may not have to do this as credible reports are circulating that Adit is in great financial difficulties which will prevent him from continuing in a political role. That may be one reason that Sng is in the picture.
On the Bagan Pinang by-election, it is learnt that the political bureau members agreed to wait for a post-mortem report to be prepared by PAS for Pakatan.
Briefly, they agreed that "massive electoral fraud including abuse of postal votes and government machinery" were among the reasons for the PAS candidate's Bagan Pinang defeat.
"There was wholesale bribing of the Indian voters in particular with money and offers of houses," said one insider.
"We fear this will be a trend in future when the BN deals with Indian voters in particular since minority votes can swing the election results in marginal seats."
source - sabahkini