KOTA KINABALU: A senior Sabah PKR leader has quit the national Opposition party, citing unhappiness over its president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s timing in appointing a new state chief.
Datuk John Ghani, 72, who has been with PKR since 2004, said while the appointment was the president’s call, he was concerned it was made when the 15th general election (GE15) could be called at any time.
John, a two-term Kuala Penyu assemblyman, said party members in Sabah were hoping Anwar would resolve the state leadership tussle when the latter was in town a week ago.
But instead, he contended, the Opposition leader ended up making things worse after dropping former Sabah PKR chairman Datuk Christina Liew, who had been with the party for 20 years, and naming virtually-unknown Datuk Sangkar Rasam as her successor.
"She is very loyal and is also a sitting Tawau MP and Api-Api assemblyman - how can you drop her at a time like this?" he told reporters in a press conference here on Friday (Aug 12).
"He (Anwar) was supposed to play peacemaker but ended up splitting the party even further.
"It’s not that you can’t change the leader and I’m not questioning the choice - that is the President’s prerogative, but this is just the wrong timing because GE15 is just around the corner ... our focus should be on GE15," he added.
John said that he was relinquishing his post as a Sabah PKR vice-chairman, as well as the advisor to the party’s southwestern Beaufort division with his resignation.
John, who was once the central PKR vice-president, also claimed that there were two camps in Sabah PKR.
One faction sided with Liew, he said, and the other supported his "good friend" Sangkar and his (Sangkar’s) nephew Raymond Ahuar, who is the Pensiangan division leader as well as former Sabah PKR youth chief.
"There has always been a split (and) Anwar knows about this. So, that’s why we hoped Anwar would solve the problem when he came here.
"This appointment will further split members here. I believe this could end up in us losing the Putatan and Tawau Parliamentary seats (which the party won in GE14)," he said.
Anwar had announced last Saturday (Aug 6) that Sangkar would be the Sabah PKR state leadership council chairman for the 2022-2025 period, replacing Liew who has held the post since October 2016.
Sangkar had in December last year led 16 state PKR divisional leaders in a revolt against Liew’s chairmanship, calling for Anwar to remove the former Sabah deputy chief minister as the state leadership council chairman.
Speaking on behalf of the 16 leaders, Sangkar, the Keningau division chief and whose influence was seen as only limited to the interior areas, had contended then that Sabah PKR could only be strengthened to face GE15 if they had a new leader in place.
John said he was also unhappy with the Anwar-led Pakatan Harapan’s decision to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government.
He felt the MoU provided no benefit for the party and the people, contending the inking of the agreement also cost them the state elections in Johor, Melaka and Sarawak.
John was the assemblyman for Kuala Penyu in 1985 with Usno and in 2004 as an independent.