KOTA KINABALU, April 4 — Prime Minister and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is expected to put an end to the brewing state party leadership crisis here during his trip for the national level open house on April 20.

He is largely expected to be choosing between retaining his original choice, Keningau branch chief Sangkar Rasam, or Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapha Sakmud, who has offered himself to lead the party for the upcoming state elections next year.

Sabah Pakatan Harapan chairman Datuk Christina Liew said that although it was the president’s prerogative to appoint the state chief if the majority strongly opposed that leader, then it was up to the president again to make a decision.

“We are always looking at opportunities for people to progress. If they feel they have the majority, then we will listen to them. If not, then we will leave it to the president. It is his prerogative,” said Liew.

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The Kota Kinabalu PKR division chief was among 15 other division leaders who had signed a statutory declaration asking Sangkar to step down last month.

The embattled Sangkar, who has held the position since August 2022, has been facing strong criticism for poor and inactive leadership since late last year which has culminated in 15 out of 26 division chiefs calling for him to be replaced.

Liew, who herself faced similar issues during her term as state chairman from 2016 to 2022, said that it was normal for such disagreements to happen in any political party and said the matter will be resolved soon.

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“We shall wait for the president of PKR to settle this. He will be meeting with each division leader and from what I hear he is likely to announce the chairman position then,” she said.

Liew, who is also state tourism, culture and environment minister said that the Sabah PKR chief plays a significant role going into the elections as he will be leading the party through a new path.

“But what we are going through now is not unusual. This will not break PKR Sabah. We have gone through crises like this before. In my 22 years in PKR, these issues will come up once in a while — change of chairman, change of people, we have seen many people leave the party, and leaving me alone even.

“It's not easy. It is a matter that takes a lot of patience. So I am very sure the party president will be able to resolve these issues. After this, the party will be united again and pull our resources to prepare for the Sabah election next year,” she said.

On Sabah PKR’s allies when it comes to the state election, Liew said that they will cross the bridge when they come to it.

“I think we will wait until the time comes when the state dissolves the assembly. But what I heard from the government they will hold on until the end of the term which is around October next year.

“Meantime, as a government component, we have to work hard, that’s the only thing we should do. Cannot just be politicking, we need to be on the ground,” she said.

Sabah PKR and Pakatan Harapan will have to decide whether they will partner up with current government allies Gabungan Rakyat Sabah or if they will consider moving with BN like their national counterparts.

Although PH, GRS and BN are all under the same national unity government, BN and GRS in Sabah are at loggerheads due to a broken pact between the latter two that resulted in BN pulling their support for the government.