JOHOR BARU, June 21 — Despite his combative image and aggressive demeanour, blogger and political commentator Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris or Papagomo denied he is a gang member.
Wan Muhammad Azri, who vacillates between his Papagomo and “Sir Azri” online personas, blamed the perception on the company he keeps as well as his blunt remarks.
“I can assure anyone that I am not a gangster nor am I linked to any gangs. This is people’s perception of me based on my image,” he said.
“People who don’t know me just assume that I’m a gangster or linked to the Double 7 or other gangs.”
He also claimed that close acquaintances knew him to be open to all races and not just pro-Malay politicians such as those in Umno.
Wan Muhammad Azri spoke to Malay Mail at the sidelines of his introduction as candidate for the national Umno Youth executive committee post in the party’s liaison headquarters in Jalan Yahya Awal here today.
Over the years, Wan Muhammad Azri, who now prefers to be called by his childhood nickname of “Gomo”, claimed he has grown and matured.
The 35-year-old former policeman, who was raised in Kampung Pasir in Johor Baru, claimed that since 2015, he started to change to a more mature outlook on life after meeting outgoing Umno Youth chief and Umno presidential hopeful Khairy Jamaluddin.
“I have stopped blogging for a while now and mainly partake in recreational activities such as going to the gym, off-roading and diving.
“At the same time, I am active in this non-governmental organisation called Malaysia Bumiputera Brotherhood,” he said, adding that Khairy was his idol in achieving a better Malaysia for all.
Wan Muhammad Azri also insisted he was not “untouchable” and “above the law” as some people think.
While saying some believed he was “shielded” by powerful politicians in the past, he reminded his critics that he has been arrested and remanded seven times by the police.
He was also found guilty of defaming Pakatan Harapan de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and ordered to pay RM800,000 in damages.
“I can tell you that it was a lousy experience being in the police lock-up and remanded for some time.
“The worst was being arrested and released on Hari Raya day itself for the Low Yat Plaza riots that I was not even involved in,” he said.
On his candidacy for an Umno Youth executive committee position in the party polls set for June 30, Wan Muhammad Azri said that it is a calling to assist Umno after the party and Barisan Nasional’s (BN) defeat at the recent 14th general election (GE14).
“I hope that the Umno members can accept my candidacy as it won’t be an easy contest this time round as I am contesting together with 217 others, which is a record number,” he said.
He said that he has no team for his campaign bid and relied mainly on phone calls, WhatsApp messages and social media to reach out to potential supporters among Umno members.
Checks revealed that Wan Muhammad Azri was the Umno committee member for the Wangsa Maju division from 2013 to 2018. He will also contest as the division’s deputy division chief post for the coming election.
He has also been the Malaysia Bumiputera Brotherhood president from 2014.
On the view that he would be a political liability to Umno in the current era, he again insisted he was misunderstood.
“Papagomo of the past was built on solid information that I channeled through my blog.
“The source of my information is very accurate and many politicians also feared me,” he said, claiming that it was his access to many leading politicians at that time that gave his blog much credible information.
Wan Muhammad Azri believed he can contribute to Umno in many ways as the party is now in the Opposition.
“To Umno politicians, I am called “The War Machine” and with the current political landscape I can be an asset to the party.
“I have more than 11 years of mainly political strategy and I worked for the late special envoy to the United States Tan Sri Jamaluddin Jarjis,” he explained.
Wan Muhammad Azri was last in the spotlight in April when he openly declared his intention to challenge Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for the Pandan parliamentary seat in GE14.
However, he was a no-show on nomination day and later admitted that it was simply a publicity stunt.