PKR polls enters final phase in Sarawak

KUCHING: The PKR election enters its final phase in Sarawak over the weekend with 29 divisions set to cast potentially decisive votes in the close contest for the deputy president post.

Attention in particular will be drawn to the controversial Julau division, whose membership rose from just 603 to 13,000 in June.

Despite allegations of irregularities, including complaints from individuals that they were registered as members without their knowledge or consent, the party’s political bureau found no breaches in the process and validated the division’s membership.

This could have a bearing on the polls outcome as Julau MP Larry Sng, said to be behind the membership spike, is aligned to Rafizi Ramli who is challenging incumbent deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali.

Azmin is currently ahead by over 3,000 votes. There are about 50,000 PKR members in Sarawak, with officials anticipating about a 40% turnout. Twenty-two divisions, including Julau, will vote today and seven tomorrow.

It has also emerged that the Miri and Baram divisions look set to throw their support behind Rafizi.

A photo posted on Facebook shows Miri and Baram PKR chiefs, Dr Michael Teo and Roland Engan, in a press conference with posters featuring president-elect Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, outgoing president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar and Rafizi.

The rest of Sarawak PKR, including its top leaders, are largely behind Azmin.

Sarawak PKR information chief Vernon Kedit said it was not certain if the Sarawak vote would tilt in favour of Rafizi.

On the political bureau’s decision to validate the Julau membership, Vernon said evidence of irregularities was “incontrovertible and crystal clear”.

Sarawak PKR election coordinator Desmond Kho said the party’s central election committee was all ready to conduct the election as smoothly as possible.

“Aside from several hiccups which require re-election in some areas, Sarawak shall be the last stop. We are quite confident that the team is experienced enough and the process will go on smoothly,” he said.