JOHOR BARU — Despite his combative image and aggressive demeanour, blogger and political commentator Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris or Papagomo has denied he is linked to gangsterism.
Wan Muhammad Azri, who vacillates between his Papagomo and “Sir Azri” online personas, blamed the perception on the company he keeps as well as his blunt remarks.
“I can assure everyone that I am not a gangster nor am I linked to any gangs. This is people’s perception of me based on my image,” he said.
“People who don’t know me just assume that I’m a gangster or linked to the Double 7 or other gangs.”
He also claimed close acquaintances knew him to be open to all races and not just pro-Malay politicians such as those in Umno.
Wan Muhammad Azri spoke to Malay Mail on the sidelines of his introduction as a candidate for the national Umno Youth executive committee post at the party’s liaison headquarters at Jalan Yahya Awal in Johor Baru yesterday.
Over the years Gomo, as he prefers to be called, said he has matured.
The 35-year-old former policeman, who was raised in Kampung Pasir in Johor Baru, claimed since he started to change to a more mature outlook on life after meeting outgoing Umno Youth chief and Umno presidential hopeful Khairy Jamaluddin
“I have stopped blogging for a while now and mainly partake in recreational activities such as going to the gym, off-roading and diving.
“At the same time, I am active in this non-governmental organisation called Malaysia Bumiputera Brotherhood,” he said, adding Khairy is his idol.
Wan Muhammad Azri also insisted he is not “untouchable” and “above the law” as some people believe.
While saying some believed he was “shielded” by powerful politicians in the past, he reminded his critics he has been arrested and remanded seven times by the police.
He was also found guilty of defaming Pakatan Harapan de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and ordered to pay RM800,000 in damages.
“I can tell you that it was a lousy experience being in the lock-up. The worst was being arrested and released on Hari Raya day for the Low Yat Plaza riots that I was not even involved in,” he said.
On his candidacy for an Umno Youth executive committee position in the party polls set for June 30, Wan Muhammad Azri said it is a calling to assist Umno after the party and Barisan Nasional’s defeat at the recent general election.
“I hope Umno members can accept my candidacy as it won’t be an easy contest this time around as I am contesting together with 217 others, which is a record number.”
He said that he has no team for his campaign bid and relies mainly on phone calls, WhatsApp messages and social media to reach out to potential supporters.
Checks revealed Wan Muhammad Azri was the Umno committee member for the Wangsa Maju division from 2013 to 2018. He will also contest the division’s deputy division chief post in the upcoming elections.
He has also been Malaysia Bumiputera Brotherhood president since 2014.
On the view he would be a political liability to Umno in the current era, he reiterated he was misunderstood.
“Papagomo of the past was built on solid information that I channelled through my blog.
“The source of my information is accurate and many politicians feared me,” he said, claiming it was his access to many leading politicians at that time that gave his blog credible information.
Wan Muhammad Azri believes he can contribute to Umno in many ways as the party is now in the Opposition.
“To Umno politicians, I am called “The War Machine” and with the current political landscape, I can be an asset to the party.
“I have more than 11 years of mainly political strategy and I worked for the late special envoy to the US Tan Sri Jamaluddin Jarjis.”
Wan Muhammad Azri was last in the spotlight in April when he openly declared his intention to challenge Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for the Pandan parliamentary seat in last month’s elections.
However, he was a no-show on nomination day and later admitted it was a publicity stunt.