SABAK BERNAM, June 1 — Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) tonight named local leader Azhar Ab Shukur as its candidate for the June 18 Sungai Besar by-election, quelling previous talk that it would field party president Mohamad Sabu for the contest.
Mohamad, who made the announcement at Dewan Seri Sekinchan here, said a local leader was more suited for the contest as he would be in a better position to champion the interests of voters in the federal seat.
Azhar, who is Amanah’s Sungai Besar chairman, thanked the leadership of Pakatan Harapan for having faith in him.
Azhar is expected to face two state lawmakers in the battle for Sungai Besar — Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Budiman Mohd Zohdi, who is also Sungai Panjang assemblyman, and PAS’s Meru assemblyman Dr Abdul Rani Osman.
“I will work very hard during the two weeks campaigning period to explain to the people of Pakatan Harapan’s goals and agenda,” the 51-year-old leader said.
Azhar, a father of three, was flanked by his wife during tonight’s announcement, which was made before a crowd of about a hundred people.
Also present were PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, former Umno supreme council member Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and party vice-president Rafizi Ramli.
DAP leaders in attendance were Lim Kit Siang, Anthony Loke, Sekinchan assemblyman Ng Suee Lim and Selangor exco member V. Ganabatirau.
Selangor Mentri Besar and PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali was not present and neither were other PKR vice-presidents.
When asked to explain Azmin’s absence, Dr Wan Azizah said her party had decided it was better for Azmin not to be present so as to maintain harmony within the Selangor government that still had PAS representatives in it.
“This is the by-election for a parliamentary seat and we know PAS is still in the previous Pakatan Rakyat pact. The party decided Mohamed Azmin must take care of his administration.
“Tonight, I am representing PKR. Mohamed Azmin is still mentri besar and PKR deputy president. This was the decision made by the party last night and PH members have been informed of this decision,” she said.
Azmin had wanted PKR to stand in Sungai Besar and was over the past week negotiating an agreement with PAS to ensure a straight fight in the seat but this reportedly failed to yield any success.
Nominations for the Sungai Besar by-election, as well as for Kuala Kangsar, a federal seat in Perak, have been set for this Sunday while polling will be on June 18.
* Editor’s note: An earlier version mistranslated remarks by Dr Wan Azizah that have since been corrected. Malay Mail Online apologises for the error.