KUALA LUMPUR, July 29: The push to make Warisan chief Shafie Apdal the opposition’s prime minister candidate instead of PKR president Anwar Ibrahim is driving a wedge between the two parties, according to Sabah PKR Youth information chief Razeef Rakimin.
Speaking to FMT, he claimed that most of the party’s members in the state backed Anwar as prime minister.
“Some see this push for Shafie to be prime minister as a tactic to divide PH (Pakatan Harapan),” he added.
He said he was disappointed that Sabah PKR chief Christina Liew had yet to give a firm answer on whom she supports as the prime minister candidate.
Liew, who is deputy chief minister, has been quoted as saying she was torn between Shafie and Anwar.
According to a recent news report, she said all Sabahans felt honoured that an East Malaysian could become prime minister but added that Anwar had been PH’s designated candidate “all the time”.
Razeef said her sentiments were not shared by the PKR grassroots in the state.
In fact, he claimed, the grassroots were now opposed to having the party work with Warisan and that many had suggested PKR pull out from the state government because “Shafie clearly rejects the PKR president.”
Razeef hit out at Warisan for its continued support of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has been largely blamed for the so-called Project IC, a clandestine project under which thousands of foreigners in Sabah were given Malaysian citizenship.
“It’s strange and embarrassing,” he said. “I dare say that Warisan will lose out by not supporting Anwar, who is true to the reform agenda.”
Political analyst Arnold Puyok of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak said he believed Warisan and PKR could still work together and should do so because the state needed a united front to defend the interests of the state.
“Warisan and PKR cannot afford to be in conflict,” he said. “But the prime minister candidate issue has caused uneasiness among Warisan and PH supporters.”
He too said Warisan was running a risk with its continued support of Mahathir, a divisive figure in Sabah.
Lee Kuok Tiung of Universiti Malaysia Sabah said Warisan would need PH in an election, especially in the urban and semi-urban constituencies.
But whether they would be able to work together remained to be seen, he added.
“It’s getting more evident that the gap between Mahathir and Anwar is widening, and this means cooperation in the next election becomes more unlikely.
“I believe PH should focus on a snap election rather than trying to oust the Perikatan Nasional-led government from power through defections.”