Johor PKR denies cracks forming over seat split, meddling

By Ben Tan
In 2013, PKR won seven state seats and one parliamentary seat, but six elected representatives have since left the party, including two who defected to join the ruling Barisan Nasional. — Picture by KE Ooi

JOHOR BARU, Jan 23 — The head of PKR in the state denied his party was divided following a senior member’s claim of unhappiness at the grassroots level over seat allocations for the general election and interference by Pakatan Harapan (PH) allies.

Johor PKR chief Hassan Abdul Karim said dissatisfaction was bound to occur whenever parties must vie for their share of seats heading into general elections.

“To be realistic, this does not mean that Johor PKR is weakened or fractured just because of one dissatisfied party member.

“In fact, the state party’s leadership also did not stop him from posting his grievances regarding the state seat allocations as PKR believes in being democratic and open to views of its individual members,” he said when contacted by Malay Mail yesterday.

He was commenting on remarks that PKR’s Batu Pahat deputy chief Ronald Sia posted on his Facebook last weekend, in which he alleged unhappiness with the PH central committee in Johor over state seat allocations.

Hassan added that as state PKR chairman, he has already taken steps to address Sia’s grouses.

“We are also not taking this matter lightly and I have in fact met-up with the member in question today to look into his grievances and problems,” he said.

It was learnt that Sia will not be nominated for the Pulai Sebatang state seat as it was given to Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) after state seat allocations were finalised.

Pulai Sebatang and Benut are the two state seats under the Pontian parliamentary constituency held by Umno’s Datuk Ahmad Maslan.

The seat is currently held by MCA’s Datuk Tee Siew Kiong, who is also the Johor tourism, trade and consumerism committee chairman.

A senior PH source claimed Sia, who was recently active in serving the Pulai Sebatang area, was disillusioned at losing the spot to Amanah.

“He had lashed out emotionally through his personal Facebook account on Saturday afternoon and also left the Johor PKR coordinating team WhatsApp group saying that the seat negotiation team under the Johor PH central committee was the biggest mistake in Johor PKR’s history,” said the source.

The source suggested that Sia look at the bigger picture of winning Johor for PH, pointing out that this was the first time in the Opposition’s history that the division of federal and state seats were concluded so quickly.

“To be fair, both the seat allocations have been negotiated, discussed and in principle agreed before the end of this month pending endorsement during the state PH convention.

“So, this shows the level of commitment and preparedness of Johor PKR as well as each of the PH component parties to face the coming general election in the state,” said the source.

The source agreed that there may be unhappiness among some PKR members, but said the Johor PH central committee had anticipated this.

“Some things are bound to happen, but to be fair Johor PH has to be united and forge ahead now,” said the source.

Sia has declined to comment when contacted by Malay Mail.

On Saturday, the unofficial Johor state seat allocations were leaked online and showed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia being allocated 18 out of 56 state seats in Johor.

DAP was allocated 14 seats, while PKR and Amanah will each get just 12 seats.

However, the official seat allocations are expected to be announced soon at the Johor PH convention.