THERE is increasing talk on the political front in Sarawak that Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is favouring a change in the state PKR leadership.
Rumour has it that he wants to replace current state PKR chairman Baru Bian because the latter had openly thrown his support behind Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.
Azmin is PKR deputy president and is involved in a federal leadership tussle with Anwar.
There are high stakes involved in the Anwar-Baru tussle in Sarawak as the state is expected to go to the polls sometime next year.
Sarawak PKR is aiming to contest at least half the 82 state constituencies in the coming 12th state election.
But a serious dilemma has emerged over the list of potential party candidates.
This follows the latest tiff between Baru and Anwar over the staging of the PKR Convention in Miri, which was launched by the party president last Saturday. Baru failed to show up for the convention.
His decision could be costly as the Sarawak leader may find himself losing the right to decide on his choice for the list of PKR candidates for the state elections.
It is understood that Baru is preparing his list of candidates.
There are now attempts by Sarawak PKR members opposed to him and who are loyal to Anwar to make sure Baru will not have the autonomy to select the candidates from his camp.
They are apparently coming up with their own candidate list and want Anwar to have the final say over who in Sarawak PKR will contest.
Baru had last week cancelled the Sarawak PKR Convention in Miri but Anwar overruled him and entrusted the task of holding the event to Miri PKR branch chief Michael Teo Yu Keng.
Teo had earlier this year contested against Baru for the Sarawak PKR chairman post during the party polls but failed to unseat him.
Anwar on Saturday kickstarted the PKR state elections campaign by launching an attack against the Sarawak government over allegations of corruption and unfair land policies.
The 12th state polls must be held before June 2021 but Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg and his ruling government of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) are likely to hold snap polls by the middle of next year.
Out of the 82 state assembly seats, GPS controls 67, Opposition holds 10 seats, Parti Sarawak Bersatu has four seats and there is one Independent.
In the Opposition side, DAP has seven seats and PKR, three.
Baru had earlier this year said Sarawak PKR planned to contest 40 seats, while Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chien Jen said his party was eyeing 29 seats.
Amanah national president Mohamad Sabu reportedly said his party was looking at 13 seats.
Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia has since entered the fray and is reportedly considering putting candidates in several Malay-majority seats in Kuching and Samarahan divisions.
In the midst of all these, Baru may find himself out in the cold.
If the Anwar camp in Sarawak PKR launches an all-out open mutiny against Baru, PKR may find its state election preparations in chaos.
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