‘Two is not better than one’

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 08 Dec 2019

PETALING JAYA: Brawls, walkouts and veiled attacks against opponents in the speeches of top PKR leaders during the party’s national congress point to the collapse of the fragile peace that was forged between PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy Datuk Seri Azmin Ali three days before the event.

Reconciliation between the two rival factions in PKR remains a mere suggestion instead of a reality, said political analysts, adding that they don’t foresee any compromise on the horizon.

“PKR is now a ship with two captains respectively heading ‘Team A’ and ‘Team B’, repeating its political foe Umno’s crisis back in 1987,” said Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s politics and governance research group head Dr Mazlan Ali.

“Team A is led by PKR president Anwar and Team B by his deputy Azmin. There is indeed a resemblance to the Umno crisis where there were two captains.

“I can see that during the congress, there have been efforts to unite the party but the reality is that, when there are two captains, PKR will continue to be split, with supporters on either side.

“When there is a Team A and Team B, PKR will repeat Umno’s history, and the party will be divided unless one of them either leaves the party or submits to the leader,” said Mazlan.

Back in 1987, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s Team B challenged Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Team A for control of Umno, which saw the latter winning the party election with a slim majority.

Team B then filed a suit to overturn the election and this led to Umno being declared illegal on technical grounds.

Dr Mahathir immediately reconstituted Umno with only Team A members.

Mazlan said Dr Mahathir’s leadership style was effective as it made Umno stronger by cutting out the “cancer” within the party.

“Anwar’s style is more forgiving. Dr Mahathir has a doctor’s style; when he sees cancer, he cuts it off.

“I’m seeing that Anwar has no choice but to get rid of those who are against him.

“Although we hope that PKR can settle its differences amicably, it will be difficult as long as there are two captains, because neither would want to give in and both leaders have strong support,” he added.

The division within PKR was manifested in the brawls at the PKR national congress in Melaka on Friday and a now-scrapped parallel gathering in Kuala Lumpur linked to Azmin, said Mazlan.

A commotion took place during the PKR Youth and Women wings’ congress on Friday, which later escalated into scuffles involving about 50 individuals at the youth congress, with police arrests being made.

Although Azmin’s purported parallel gathering was aborted, a “Shared Prosperity Vision” dinner by him is still slated to take place tonight at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, away from the congress in Melaka.

Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Social Sciences said there was no way for PKR to end the factionalism now as it appeared that no side was willing to compromise.

“There’s no way to end it now. Both have met up and had a mediator.

“However, factionalism exists and will continue unless one party is ready to compromise and sacrifice. But we don’t know who’s willing to do that.

“We haven’t seen a concrete closure to this issue and the supporters are emotionally affected by what’s happening,” he said, referring to Friday’s bust-up.

On the meeting between Anwar and Azmin on Wednesday, Prof Sivamurugan said their aim was to have a temporary ceasefire to allow only one congress to take place instead of two parallel ones.

“The Registrar of Societies (ROS) will definitely interfere if there are two meetings. So at Anwar and Azmin’s level, they managed to compromise on that,” he added.

PKR is now playing along the lines of “personalised politics”, said Prof Sivamurugan, adding that this means supporters of each side put their leaders above the party and its original struggles.

“That’s why we see internal bickering. PKR members are willing to forgo the political ideology that they share and which brought them together,” he said.

The onus is on Anwar, the prime minister-in-waiting, to solve the crisis within his own party by pacifying his supporters and bringing back his opponents to the party before leading Malaysians at the national level, said Prof Sivamurugan.

“PKR is being watched; whatever decisions it makes at the congress will affect its image, reputation and credibility so it really has to make a rational and practical decision to allow them to remain relevant at the national level,” he said.

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