SHAH ALAM: The PKR cold war between party president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali is heating up.
In a veiled remark during the Reformist Convention 2019 here, Anwar told PKR leaders not to forget the party’s original struggle and warned against a return to “bad habits”.
The PKR president said some leaders had started to divert from the party’s struggle and were even ashamed to call for reforms.
“They forget that our struggle is not to protect the interests of one or two people, who are ministers.
“Especially not those ‘whoever supports me will get projects, those who do not support, will not get’ (people). These are Umno’s old bad habits, ” he said in his opening address at the convention to about 500 supporters to cheers and chants of “reformasi” from the floor.
Anwar did not mention Azmin’s name but it was evident that his scathing remark was directed at his deputy president who has been boycotting PKR events or meetings involving the party president.
Anwar said he had raised the same issue during his recent meeting with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“This is what we want to correct – we have the responsibility but we abused it. We want to stop such practices. This is the meaning of abuse of power.
“Not only do you not meet with party members, but you hold discussions with the Opposition.
“This project, that project... What party is this? Project party?” asked Anwar, drawing laughter from the floor.
On Monday (Nov 18) night, PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali had a meeting with 27 MPs from PKR and Umno at his residence in Putrajaya.
Despite raised eyebrows over his get-together which included Opposition MPs, Azmin described the meeting as nothing out of the ordinary.
The feud between Team Anwar and Team Azmin seems to have gone a notch further when Azmin, who is the Economic Affairs Minister, and PKR leaders aligned to him are planning not to attend the party’s national convention in Melaka from Dec 5 to 7.
Team Azmin’s absence in the PKR national convention would send the signal that the strained relationship between the party deputy president and Anwar is at breaking point.
To compound the situation, the Wanita wing as well as the faction aligned to the Youth wing’s deputy chief, Hilman Idham, will be inviting Azmin to launch their convention.
Yesterday, The Star reported that it was understood that Wanita chief Haniza Talha and Hilman, who is Gombak Setia assemblyman, were doing it without the sanction of the central leadership.
The move was in defiance of PKR Youth chief Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir’s decision to uninvite Azmin, although it is the tradition for the deputy president to address the joint opening of the Wanita and Youth wings.
Instead, Akmal has proposed Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in place of Azmin.
The Star also reported that there was a mutiny in the making and Anwar would be presiding over the national convention as president of a party divided.
“It’s the first time something like this has happened in our party. People used to criticise Wan Azizah’s leadership but we still managed to grow from small to big under her.
“Now, a year after Anwar took over, there is a bigger crisis than ever before, ” said Khalid Jaafar, who is an adviser to the Economic Affairs Minister.
Supporters of Anwar have chided party members who did not show their respect for party rules.
PKR parliamentary whip chief Datuk Johari Abdul said that these leaders must practise discipline and follow the direction that had been decided by the party leadership.
“Those who keep disobeying the party’s directives are insulting the trust given to them by the people. Nobody can force you to come to a meeting or a convention, but if you want to boycott, it is bad for the party, ” he said yesterday.
The Sungai Petani MP said there should be a middle ground where both sides could come and discuss matters as all of them were in the same party.
“The leadership will make a decision during these meetings, but if you don’t come and make your dissatisfaction known, how can problems be solved?” he asked.
PKR Youth chief Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir said that all the state conventions, including in Sarawak, had already been decided by the central leadership.
“The grassroots want to see the central leadership act on this issue.
“Those who fail to turn up at meetings, they have the responsibility to the people to explain what they are doing, ” said the Johor Baru MP. Perak PKR chief Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal Mubarak said those who went against the party leadership had no discipline or respect for the party constitution and structure. However, he believed they were a minority.
He also called for action to be taken against those who go against the party leadership.
“However, our president is very forgiving, but many don’t have the patience anymore, ” he said.
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