By Clara Chooi
Assistant News Editor
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — In the aftermath of Thursday’s resignations by 14 Sabah Wanita PKR members, Zuraida Kamaruddin has reminded all party members to prioritise Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) Putrajaya dream instead of clamouring to be candidates in the coming polls.
The Wanita PKR national chief admitted to The Malaysian Insider that there is still a lingering dissatisfaction among Sabah PKR leaders over the possibility of losing their bid to contest the coming polls.
But she pointed out that this was inevitable as the party would have to cede some seats to accommodate PR’s new Sabah allies Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS) and Pertubuhan Pakatan Perubahan Sabah (PPPS).
“I can’t say there is none (dissatisfaction). But they have to be rational. Are they in this for the short term or the long term?” Zuraida (picture) said in a phone call from Sabah yesterday afternoon.
“In the interest of fighting Barisan Nasional (BN) and Umno, what we are doing is we are putting out our best in the contest,” she added.
APS is led by Tuaran MP Datuk Seri Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing, formerly the deputy president of BN’s United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO), while PPPS is led by Beaufort MP and former Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin.
Both men left BN last year to form the PR-friendly movements are currently working out a seat-sharing formula with PR’s DAP, PKR and PAS, turning the Sabah opposition front into a very crowded battle.
Winnie Juani, who is Sabah Wanita PKR vice-chairman, Penampang wing chief and the wing’s Sabah election strategist, quit the party on Thursday along with 13 other elected and appointed leaders from the division.
She told The Malaysian Insider that they had no particular reason for leaving, except that they needed to “take a rest” from the hectic life of politics.
The 52-year-old Juani also denied that she had left because her party leadership could not confirm her candidacy in Moyog, a state seat under the BN-held Penampang parliamentary constituency.
Zuraida said she spoke to Juani after the latter’s sudden move to quit and decided to respect her decision.
“She said she wants to rest and take care of her family. Some can’t take the stress and the pressure and need time to rest... so let them take their rest, we are not short of leaders and women candidates,” she said.
Our division is strong and we will make sure that our machinery continues to stay in place. — Zuraida Kamaruddin
Zuraida would not confirm speculation that Juani had left because of the candidacy issue but said repeatedly that in the interest of PR’s plan to wrest federal power, all party members need to put their personal interests aside.
“But if members want to take a rest because they are not happy about this, we will respect their decision,” she said.
Zuraida added that Juani was “alone in making the decision”, and insisted that PKR and PR, whether nationally or in Sabah, were not affected by the latter’s quit move.
She said Sabah Wanita PKR secretary Esther Otion has been assigned to oversee matters instead.
“Our division is strong and we will make sure that our machinery continues to stay in place,” she said.
Moyog is one of two state seats under the Penampang parliamentary constituency and has traditionally been known as a BN stronghold.
Penampang is held by UPKO president Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok, while his party’s information chief Datuk Donald Peter Majuntin is Moyog assemblyman and Sabah MCA chief Datuk Edward Khoo is Kapayan assemblyman.
Following her resignation yesterday, Juani had also revealed that “opposition parties” have approached her to join them, but said her decision would depend on those who left PKR with her.
There are two other notable opposition parties in Sabah — the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) led by Datuk Yong Teck Lee and State Reform Party (STAR) led by Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
Seat negotiations between PR and the two parties were earlier on the cards but have now reached a deadlock ahead of the general election which must be held by this June.