PKR leaders are confident that Anwar Ibrahim’s legacy in Permatang Pauh remains intact despite claims from Umno that it is no longer the opposition’s stronghold.
Responding to remarks by Permatang Pauh Umno division chief Zaidi Mohd Said, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said while he respected Zaidi’s opinion, it smacked of arrogance.
“He is a very hardworking man. I respect his opinion. Unfortunately, Zaidi is representing a very unpopular party, which is Umno. A wise politician will usually come out with a guided and carefully crafted statement, and not be seen as arrogant.
“The PKR support base for Anwar will remain intact. We fully believe in the wisdom of Permatang Pauh voters,” he told FMT.
Zaidi had reportedly said that regardless of whether PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail or her daughter, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar, stood in Permatang Pauh, wresting the seat from PKR was no longer an impossible task.
He said the 14th general election (GE14) provided the best opportunity to convince the people of Permatang Pauh to vote for change due to their growing disappointment with the opposition leader.
“The issue of BN and Umno being incapable of seizing the seat from Anwar’s dynasty no longer arises. Before this, all quarters, including BN, viewed Permatang Pauh as Anwar’s impregnable fortress.
“Since taking over the Permatang Pauh Umno leadership in 2013, I set the target of changing the perception of the people in Permatang Pauh,” he reportedly told Umno Online.
Zaidi also claimed that Anwar had only served the constituency well when he was with Umno, and had later abandoned his duties and responsibilities.
Citing the lack of allocations and development, he said the people of Permatang Pauh must be made to realise the importance of having an elected representative from BN.
However, Zaidi’s remarks were shot down by PKR’s deputy youth chief and Seberang Jaya assemblyman Dr Afif Bahardin. Seberang Jaya is one of the state seats under the Permatang Pauh constituency.
Afif said after the opposition took over in 2008, it had managed to develop the area better with allocations from the state government.
He listed down the development projects carried out in the area, such as the construction of new food centres and new public markets in Seberang Jaya.
Permatang Pauh, Afif said, also boasted the biggest and latest convention centre, the SP Arena in Seberang Jaya, and plans were afoot to build a new science centre for children in Guar Perahu.
“We are also carrying out flood mitigation projects worth RM13 million, which are funded by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
“Anwar and Kak Wan (Wan Azizah) are influential in Permatang Pauh, because the people in Permatang Pauh know what they stand for and the struggle they face to bring about a better future for the nation.
“If we take over Putrajaya, we will be able to implement more pro-rakyat policies and initiatives,” he said.
When asked if Zaidi’s confidence of winning the seat was misplaced or misguided, Afif merely laughed and said: “How would I know what he thinks?”
Anwar’s legacy in Permatang Pauh has stood firm over the last three elections, as well as a by-election in 2015. He and Wan Azizah have held the seat since 1982, when he contested under the BN ticket.
In the 1999, 2004 and 2008 general elections, Wan Azizah successfully defended the seat for PKR.
Anwar stood in the 2013 general election and won the seat with a slightly reduced majority, but was later disqualified as an MP following the Federal Court’s rejection of his appeal against a five-year jail sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal for sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.-FMT