Johor PKR camps poised to back Anwar’s presidency bid

Ben Tan
Anwar announced his intention to finally contest the presidency of PKR last week. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

JOHOR BARU, July 18 — Johor PKR and its factions within the state appear set to throw their full support behind Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s bid for the presidency in the party’s September polls.

Like the party’s central leadership, the state chapter features factions that are either aligned with deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali or former secretary-general Rafizi Ramli, who is seen as a proxy for current president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

These factions are also broken up into smaller cliques that each have varying degrees of support for the party’s various leaders.

However, a source close to the leadership of the state chapter said these are, at the moment, unified by their common backing for Anwar who will vie for the presidency of the party for the very first time this year.

“For the time being the two main factions in Johor PKR have agreed to support Anwar as the president.

“However, the status quo for the party’s deputy post may change if there is a challenger for Azmin’s post as the party’s number two in the coming elections,” said the source on condition of anonymity to Malay Mail.

The source said the two camps are closely following Azmin’s possible challengers, such as Rafizi who may bid to depose the former Selangor mentri besar.

“If it is confirmed, there is going to be a close fight and some of the splinter factions within Johor PKR may close ranks and maintain their allegiances to one of the two main camps in the state,” said the same source.

The source said Azmin’s recent elevation to the federal government as Economic Affairs Minister was also not well received by the rival camp in Johor.

The source said the rival camp expects Azmin to bide his time as the party’s second most senior leader instead of going for the top post, particularly as that would put him in direct contention with Anwar who is meant to succeed Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister.

“Now is not the right time for Azmin to challenge Anwar as such action can be viewed as being disloyal and at the same time may destroy his grassroots following among party members nationwide,” said the source.

Another source from among the top leadership of Johor Pakatan Harapan said the PKR polls were generating a lot of attention among allies expecting component party leaders to scrum for a share of the spoils.

“Since after the May 9 general elections, PKR in Johor seems to be popular and relevant to many current as well as new members.

“The PKR party election is somehow seen as a measure of who will be in control of important posts in both the federal and state governments,” said the source.

Anwar announced his intention to finally contest the presidency of PKR last week.

He has never held the position despite being the original cause of the party’s formation and has remained its unofficial de facto leader while leaving the presidency to his wife, Dr Wan Azizah.