Malaysiakini NEWS

Once like 'father and son', Azmin urged to mend ties with Anwar

Hariz Mohd & Zikri Kamarulzaman
Published:  |  Modified:

INTERVIEW | Anwar Ibrahim and Azmin Ali were once like father and son before their relationship became strained in recent years, according to the PKR president's political secretary Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal Mubarak.

In an interview with Malaysiakini last week, he said Anwar extended an olive branch to his estranged deputy on multiple occasions and still harboured hope of making amends.

"(Anwar) has told everyone. He went as far as finding mediators to help them reconcile. The ball is in Azmin's court. It is up to him whether to accept," he said.

According to Farhash, the mediators were senior party figures but he was not certain of their identities.

Farhash, 37, was relatively unknown until his appointment as Perak PKR chief after winning the election for the Kuala Kangsar PKR division head post.

Last month, his name appeared in all news publications after he was arrested in connection with a sex video implicating Azmin.

For more than a decade, Farhash has been working behind the scenes, helping his boss build a social media presence and planning his political activities.

Farhash's account of Anwar's attempt to mend ties with Azmin corroborated with the accounts of those who attended the PKR leadership retreat in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, last month.

Sources told Malaysiakini that some party leaders had accused Azmin and his supporters of insubordination. However, when Anwar addressed the media later, he declared that Azmin was still part of his team.

The rift between the two manifested clearly in Azmin, and sometimes his allies, shunning the PKR central leadership council (MPP) meetings. The MPP meetings involve 60 members and is held on the last Sunday of every month.

Apart from directing the party's political bureau, which meets weekly, the MPP also communicates party policy to members who are part of the executive.

Out of PKR's seven cabinet ministers, five - Zuraida Kamaruddin, Dr Xavier Jayakumar, Saifuddin Abdullah, Baru Bian and Azmin - are members of what is known in political circles as the "kartel" bloc in PKR.

"My boss is forgiving, so much so that it causes him trouble. They (Azmin and allies) believe they feel they can get away with (absenteeism),” said Farhash.

"Azmin never attended. I have attended (every) MPP since (December). There have been eight (meetings since the party elections).

"When No 2 sets an example like that...," he added, implying that Azmin's allies follow suit at other levels as well.

'I want him back as well'

Personally, Farhash said, he too wants Azmin back in the fold despite having made some off-colour remarks about the latter after being released from police detention on July 23.

He claimed that he was once "very close" to Azmin and was invited to the latter's house on several occasions.

"Even me, I'm willing to say sorry for calling him 'semburit' (sodomy). So if he wants, even I am extending the olive branch. Come back to the party. Follow the party structure. Let us bring forward a reform movement.

"If he really feels that he can't work with us, then get lost," he added with a chuckle.

Asked to elaborate on the infamous "semburit" remark, Farhash said it was a spur of the moment situation because he was vexed at the time.

Throughout the interview, Farhash repeatedly said the police should have just called him to demand that he turn himself in rather than arrest him while dining at a friend's house.

Farhash felt that the police questioning was generally frivolous and that he pieced together that the police were attempting to apply Section 377D of the Penal Code on him for abetting the act of carnal intercourse.

"Apparently there is a subsection where (if) you are (cheering like a) pom-pom girl (on the sidelines), you can also be charged," he quipped.

Farhash alluded that his arrest was designed to make Anwar look bad while shifting focus away from those depicted in the video clip.

Asked if he was, therefore, insinuating that the police was under the thumb of Anwar's political enemies, Farhash suggested that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad could have indirectly swayed the police.

"I feel very upset because I thought New Malaysia is going to change from old ways. I feel change is happening too slow.

"Look, I'm not supposed to talk bad about the prime minister, but when you set the narrative from day one, it is pretty hard for the inspector-general of police to not follow that narrative.

"You must understand that when you are the premier and you give your views, it will pretty much sway the narrative from left to right.

"So I don't know, I feel upset. I thought he was going to bring change in the police institution. I think it's a mockery," he said.

Farhash agreed when asked about Anwar's position that the party must "move on" from the sex video controversy.

"I think this (issue) is ridiculous. I think this is the kind of politics that I don't agree with... It affects my party, and myself as a leader in my party.

"If the police say they cannot identify who is (in the video), then okay. We accept it. Let's just move on," he added.


TomorrowIn Anwar, political secretary sees hope for a Malaysia for Malaysians.

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