ONE thing has been made clear. PKR is not Umno. For starters, there is no blind loyalty in PKR. The party does not glorify (or in the case of Umno, protect) its leaders who are involved in wrongdoings.
Members debate and disagree openly and are transparent in their preferred choice of leaders.
This can be interpreted as PKR walking the talk as a democratic party where no one is bigger than the organisation.
Umno learnt that bitter lesson when it put individual interests above the party and paid the price in the May 9 general election.
But the open criticisms, disagreements and caustic changes can also be construed as a party, that unlike Umno, does not know how not to air its dirty linen in public.
As a party that has been part of the federal administration for only four months, it is probably prudent for PKR to show the rakyat and investors that it is a united organisation that puts the nation before self or any other person’s interest.
As the largest party within Pakatan Harapan, it is the responsible thing to do – allaying concerns that PKR seems to be confirming what its critics and political observers had feared all along: that greed for positions and influence will spell the end of the party that was formed on the cusp of its founder Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sacking as deputy prime minister two decades ago and the incarceration he endured until his Royal pardon and release a week after the historic election.
Those who supported Anwar also rode on his popularity and the sympathy showered on him and his family to attain influence and today, high positions in the new government.
Granted, the sacrifice is not exclusively Anwar’s and his family’s.
Other PKR leaders such as deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, vice-president Tian Chua and secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution also endured imprisonment for staying true to their principles instead of betraying their leaders and retiring to a life of luxury.
Since we are on the subject, the “Johnny come lately-s” now feel they are entitled to dictate and amend the leadership transition that was part of the Pakatan promise in the election campaign.
One understands the fatigue over another tailor-made by-election to facilitate Anwar’s ascension to power. First it was Permatang Pauh, then Kajang and now Port Dickson.
But how else is he going to be prime minister if he does not make it to Parliament? Or should he at all?
Agreed, it does not augur well for the family when many MPs in PKR were offering their seats to Anwar while his wife and daughter were silent on theirs.
Here is where perhaps Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is expected to make the final sacrifice – give up Pandan to her husband and retire to a different life of service as the people had assumed.
If he is meant to fulfil a destiny, Anwar’s premiership should be brief and impactful.
Anwar, who is 70, should oversee a proper succession plan that could include but goes beyond the popular Azmin, who is only 54 and has a long political life ahead of him.
It would also allow Nurul Izzah Anwar to chart a political career and ascension into the federal administration, independent of her parents’ personal ambitions. It is the fatherly sacrifice that people would understand and respect.
The Malaysian electorate is not too fond of dynasties no matter how likeable or lovable the leaders are.
Meanwhile, it would be best for PKR to close ranks and cease proving that it is a seat-grabbing party.
This has been the perception of the party due to several frogs in its midst who had crossed over and caused a state to collapse and the constant bickering over posts, positions and seat allocations.
Perhaps now that he is the president of the party he founded, Anwar’s litmus test for prime ministership is being able to unify the various factions within PKR.
Anwar also finds himself in an unusual situation of having to justify why he deserved to be prime minister to a new section of the electorate who is too young to remember or appreciate the reformasi movement.
Once he succeeds, those still questioning his ability to govern would be better assured that his place in the succession plan is deserved and justified.
The writer is a former senior journalist who is now involved in public relations consultancy.