[INTERVIEW] Face to Face with Azmin Ali: Why I am an Anwar loyalist?

THERE is no patronage politics in PKR, not of any kind, claimed PKR deputy president Azmin Ali despite his confession that he is a loyal patron of opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for three decades now.

Azmin, MP for Gombak, said that his track record is that he has been under Anwar’s service for 30 years now and have never abandoned him. He also said that the very fact that he has followed Anwar in all the ministries, qualifies him for the top position of PKR.

“There is no such thing as I scratch your back, you scratch mine in PKR. It is the issue of leadership, loyalty to the leadership and respect has to be gained so you inspire supporters and the rakyat by having a strong leadership, vision and inspire them to work for the part – that is how we work in PKR,” said Azmin, who is likely to defend his post come next party elections against Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

Azmin, who is the Selangor Backbencher head, was recently potrayed in the media for having questioned Khalid, allegedly opening up the latter’s follies in running the state. This was considered one of the milestones paving the way for the Kajang by election to be held come March 23.

He was also touted as one of those in PKR wanting Khalid to vacate the MB seat, with some alleging that Azmin himself wanting the post.

A US graduate of maths and economics, Azmin said he had sacrificed much for Anwar throughout the years and that despite having been arrested, stripped naked and accused of being sodomised, he has never waivered in his belief that Anwar is clean.

“I served him (Anwar) officially for 15 years in the ministry of education, ministry of finance, and when he went to jail for seven years, I spent my time to look after his family and support the cause of Keadilan and PR,” said Azmin.

He was Anwar’s special officer during the latter’s time in the government before the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad sacked Anwar in1998.

“I continued to support Anwar, not so much because he is Anwar Ibrahim but because I believed his idealism, his courage and his conviction for the people,” said Azmin, who is very much a clone of Anwar in the way he talks and mannerisms.

He said that he had to choose between Mahathir and Anwar, when the former to whom he was an adopted son, sacked Anwar.

“When (in 1998)  the most senior leaders of PKR were asked to leave the country before the arrest of DSAI. I was the only one who refused to stay put and defend the truth. Anwar was arrested on 20th September but I was arrested on 16th of September.

“I was the first one to be arrested, questioned and forced to submit a written admission that he sodomised me and these are the things that I went through. I went through hell during that period, even then I was still loyal, even though I was assaulted, stripped naked but it is my conviction that this man is clean, is a good man that I had to defend.

“And you must remember my relationship with Dr Mahathir. I was seen then as an adopted son to Dr Mahathir. And I said this is the testimony in court that I was introduced to Anwar by Dr Mahathir. We were very close when I was a student and I finished my studies and we engaged and we became very close and when I came back, Dr Mahathir said, ‘Why don’t you serve Datuk Seri Anwar?’”

“Just imagine, how difficult it was then to decide whether to support Dr Mahathir or DSAI. These were the two great leaders of the country then – it was not an easy option for me. But I defended Anwar not because he was DSAI but because I had to defend the truth. And since then, I was in a reluctant position – I was never into politics but I was forced by Dr Mahathir to join PKR and support ‘reformasi‘,” said Azmin.