KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said her visit to Julau had been planned earlier and it has nothing to do with the ongoing PKR elections.
She said she went there in her capacity as the deputy prime minister and denied that she was campaigning for Rafizi Ramli in Julau.
She said she was originally scheduled to visit Sarawak after the party elections, but the election date was postponed to Nov 10.
“I was actually supposed to go (to Julau) after the elections of the party.
“I was not campaigning as I am not contesting,” Dr Wan Azizah, who is the outgoing PKR president, told reporters after a programme at Sekolah Tunas Bakti in Sungai Besi here yesterday.
She was responding to PKR central leadership committee member Latheefa Koya who criticised her visit to Julau.
Latheefa reportedly said Dr Wan Azizah’s visit was inappropriate as it was done on the “very eve of PKR’s party elections in Sarawak”.
During her visit, Dr Wan Azizah announced a RM100,000 allocation to tar a road leading to a longhouse.
According to Latheefa, the announcement was made in the presence of Larry Sng Wei Shien, who is contesting for the Julau division chief post and a post in the party’s central committee.
Sng previously announced his support for PKR deputy president candidate Rafizi.
Dr Wan Azizah, however, explained that her visit to Sarawak was to demonstrate the federal government’s commitment to provide for all states, including opposition states like Sarawak, without discrimination.
“Julau is the place that produces the best pepper in Malaysia. I love pepper. I asked (Works Minister) Baru Bian and he gave me five packets.
“And I also went to see the residents of Sarikei. They gave me a briefing. It is part of my official duty,” she said of her visit.
Asked if her visit would help Rafizi in the elections, Dr Wan Azizah replied “I am not involved”, and reiterated her visit before the party elections was a coincidence.
On a separate matter, Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said the ministry would start a project next year called “Diversion” for children who are involved in petty minor crimes.
She said the Diversion system would be implemented to keep children involved in minor crimes out of the existing justice system.
“The children will not be detained. (Instead) they will go through an intervention programme that is specially prepared for them based on their offence and background,” she added.