KUALA LUMPUR: PKR vice-president Tian Chua cautioned party members against being obsessed about Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim becoming the next prime minister, saying such fanaticism could turn the party "directionless".
Without mincing his words, he said there was no need for him to publicly display his loyalty and support for Anwar as the next premier, as his most important duty at present was to prevent PKR from being obsessed over the matter.
"I don't want to see our party being so worked up over the eighth, ninth, or tenth prime minister. The party will then be fanatics and that is dangerous for PKR as a ruling party.
"This issue is not about Anwar but to prevent the party from being a party without direction. This party is in your hands," he said during his winding-up speech, which was received by loud jeers from the crowd.
Tian Chua, whose real name is Chua Tian Chang, hoped that Anwar would heed his advice – that blind loyalty among party members is very dangerous for the party.
"Every member needs to be critical. As supporters, we have endured many obstacles and our responsibility is to ensure that the party becomes stronger, not divide us into factions."
Tian Chua, who was speaking during the PKR National Congress at the Melaka International Trade Centre on Sunday (Dec 8), said that the rising factionalism was unhealthy development.
At the same time, Tian Chua also criticised the quality of debates taking place at the congress, saying that most delegates were being apple polishers to state their support for Anwar as the eighth prime minister.
Tian Chua subsequently reminisced about the struggles of PKR in its 20th anniversary, speaking about detentions of party leaders under the now-defunct Internal Security Act (ISA) and the sacrifices made by various leaders, including deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.
"Without the sacrifices and successful track record of Azmin in Selangor, would we be able to achieve victory?" he asked, to loud boos from the crowd.
"Don't forget about Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah, Zuraida Kamaruddin, Dr Lee Boon Chye, and Rafizi Ramli, among others," he said.
Tian Chua said having differing points of view did not make them traitors.
"Should we be labelled as traitors just because we are not on the same page on several issues?
"I want to stress now that the rakyat is watching us and asking if PKR deserve to be the ruling party," he said.
Tian Chua said that attempts to drown out his speech would not stop him from voicing out his opinion.
"I will continue to speak out and I will continue to defend the sanctity of the principles of our struggles," he added.
Jeers were heard throughout Tian Chua's speech, and PKR permanent chairman Datuk Ahmad Kassim had to interject repeatedly to urge the crowd to keep its cool.
PKR has been marred by infighting between factions aligned to Anwar and Azmin.
On Saturday (Dec 7), about 100 individuals staged a walkout during the congress after claiming that speeches by delegates were mostly critical of Azmin.
Azmin, in a joint statement with several PKR central committee members, claimed that Anwar's speech on Saturday (Dec 7), which began with a story of Si Kitol and Raja Mendeliar on the history of Melaka had triggered personal attacks by delegates.
On Friday (Dec 6), two individuals were injured and another two arrested following a brawl at the PKR Youth and Women's wing congress.