Anwar says he contacted Azmin, offering support, adding that the latter is going through a hard time.
PKR president Anwar Ibrahim has denied that he considers his deputy Azmin Ali a threat with regard to the prime minister’s post.
Anwar also claimed to have the support of PKR lawmakers, Pakatan Harapan and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to be the next prime minister.
“So what is the issue?” Anwar told reporters this morning when asked if his call for Azmin to resign if a sex video implicating the latter proved to be authentic is related to the tussle over the prime minister’s post.
“Let me say this… MPs are with me. Harapan has made a categorical stand that there is no change (on who becomes the next prime minister). The prime minister and I have weekly meetings.
“… I have the numbers, I have the support of Harapan and the prime minister. So it is not fair to me or Azmin to indicate otherwise,” he added.
Also present at Anwar’s press conference in the Parliament lobby were two of the MPs who had inked a joint statement in support of Azmin – Saratok MP Ali Biju and Puncak Borneo MP Willie Mongin.
The statement from more than two dozen PKR leaders and senior members, including 14 MPs, had also urged Anwar to stop making divisive statements on the matter.
Speculation has been rife that Mahathir and certain powerful personalities aligned to him preferred Azmin to inherit the reins.
However, Anwar said the joint statement was not intended as a rebuke to his leadership but a reminder to keep the party united.
“What they mean is to ensure the party doesn’t appear to be too tense, so they reminded that statements I make should have a unifying effect.
“I accept their views, but I also want to explain the context since Malaysiakini reported their views as though it was a condemnation.
“Vice-president Ali Biju also disagreed with the wording that makes it as though my leadership as president is being called into question […]
“I think it (the joint statement) is positive. I think I need to be magnanimous enough to accept the fact that I need to lead a coherent, united party.
“But that doesn’t in any way create any threat, break up, or dissension. Willie was very clear about it. There is no indication whatsoever,” he said.
A group comprising members of the PKR central committee and other members of parliament from the party signed a joint statement saying that Anwar should have not called for Azmin’s resignation.
However, Anwar said some of those who signed likely misunderstood his statement.
The group were led by four party vice-presidents – Zuraida Kamaruddin, Tian Chua, Ali Biju and Xavier Jayakumar.
In their statement today, they said the party must stand firm against gutter politics used in what they termed as a conspiracy to topple Azmin.
They further said that Anwar, as party president, should stand by his deputy in the interest of party unity – and not seek to undermine him using speculation. They called upon him to work instead to unite the party in the interest of members, Pakatan Harapan and the country.
Seeking to downplay the exchange between him and Azmin, Anwar said the latter is going through a difficult time.
“What Azmin said yesterday, I give him deference,” he told reporters.
“He is going through a very difficult period. I think I would certainly not respond to some of his spontaneous outbursts.”
Yesterday, Anwar told Azmin that he should resign from his Cabinet position if he is proven to be one of the men in the videos.
Azmin subsequently shot back, telling Anwar to “look at the man in the mirror”.
Asked about Azmin’s response, Anwar quipped that he had in fact looked into a mirror this morning, prompting laughter at the press conference.
He added, “But I don’t think it is fair for him. I mean, he is in this position probably because he didn’t read the full text (of what I said) and you guys (reporters) just formed a question and needed him to respond.
“I don’t think you shouldn’t exploit this remark. I don’t feel unnecessarily upset over that, but I thought he should have read the full text and the context.”
Although his remarks yesterday were not misreported, Anwar said, the headlines of the reports had been sensationalised.
He stressed that he was not asking Azmin to resign, merely stating that the next course of action would depend on the outcome of the police investigations.
“You were all here. What I said was that we reject gutter politics, and in response to the question (what if the video turns out to be authentic) I did say if he is proven innocent, it’s okay.
“But I think I wouldn’t want to respond because I understand the predicament and difficulty he is undergoing,” Anwar added.
The Port Dickson MP also said that he had already contacted Azmin twice (since the issue flared up).
“I have contacted him twice and on the second time, I said – not only as party colleague but as family – I am prepared to discuss and be present wherever needed to help resolve this…
“I have explained clearly to him,” Anwar said.
Meanwhile, PKR vice-president Dr Xavier Jayakumar has called for calm after Anwar and Azmin traded barbs in public over the sex video scandal issue.
“I’m urging all party members to focus on unity and to stop issuing speculative statements that undermine the party in the media.
“What is important is for every elected PKR leader to be together with the Pakatan Harapan government in achieving a stronger economy,” he said in a press statement issued on Thursday (July 18).
The Kuala Langat MP regarded the sex video scandal as a worrying development which could undermine the strength of PKR.
“This was led by Azmin, as well as other leaders. PKR’s position today will not be a reality without contribution from these two leaders,” he said
Dr Xavier also said he rejected gutter politics, but maintained that he would respect all current laws.
“Investigations regarding the case must be handled by the police,” he added.