Crisis deepens amid boycott threats


  • Analysis
  • Sunday, 24 Nov 2019

PKR President Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy Datuk Seri Azmin Ali rasing their hands at the 13th party National Congress. - Filepic

Azmin and other leaders planning to skip PKR national convention next month while defiant Wanita wing and a faction of the Youth wing will invite Azmin to launch their own convention.

THE feud between PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy Datuk Seri Azmin Ali has reached a point of no return.

Azmin and several others are planning not to attend the party’s national convention in Melaka from Dec 5 to 7.

Their absence basically amounts to a boycott and Azmin’s non-appearance, in particular, would signal that the fallout between him 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.

It is understood that Wanita chief Haniza Talha and Hilman, who is Gombak Setia assemblyman, are doing it without the sanction of the central leadership.

The move is in defiance of AMK chief Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir’s decision to disinvite 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.

“It is so messy. Organising a parallel event is not the right thing to do. It won’t be recognised, ” said Selangor AMK chief Najwan Halimi.

Yesterday, Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian and some 18 division chiefs boycotted the state convention in Miri, a signal that all is not well in the state.

One of Anwar’s long-time comrades, Datuk Dr Mansor Othman, told The Star: “I am not going (to the convention). I have told Anwar in the face: I did not abandon you my brother, but you have forgotten your friends. You pushed me away.”

There is a mutiny in the making and Anwar will 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 adviser to the Economic Affairs Minister.

The rebellion will cast a pall over the national convention and the focus of the delegates will be divided between projecting Anwar as the next prime minister and the deepening split in the party.

“I can foresee the debates will be all about PM8 (8th prime minister) taking over. I don’t want to be part of that, ” said Khalid.

On the other hand, Azmin and his faction risk facing a backlash if they attend the congress.

They may be the object of criticism and jeers from supporters of Anwar who are angered by Azmin’s oft-repeated support for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to see a full term as Prime Minister.

They think it goes against the party’s stand that their party president assume the premiership by May 2020.

Those aligned to Anwar say he risks coming across as weak by not taking disciplinary action against Azmin as well as vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin because “they are walking all over the president”.

It is learnt that several reports have been lodged with disciplinary committee chairman Datuk Ahmad Kassim and that action has been recommended but Anwar is reluctant to act.

Anwar needs to keep the party and its 50 MPs together in order to strengthen his claim to the top job.

Sacking Azmin would mean losing as many as 15 MPs who are said to be loyal to him.

His party would be to go from the biggest in Parliament to second place after DAP.

He is obviously biding his time until he moves up before bringing down the axe.

Anwar’s political secretary Farhash Wafa Salvador said the action of the Azmin group is “close to treason”.

“They do not attend meetings but talk about party tradition and rules. No one is bigger than the party. It’s obvious their agenda is to get sacked and form their own party, ” said Farhash, who is also Perak PKR chief.

Farhash, who was in Miri for the Sarawak convention, also disputed Baru’s support in Sarawak.

“The state chairman is an appointed post, it’s an advisory role. Whether we like it or not, the state convention is decided by the central leadership and it has to go on, ” he said.

Farhash plans to make the Perak convention at the end of the month a big show of support for Anwar’s leadership.

But trouble may be brewing in Selangor where the state chief is Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari, an Azmin acolyte.

Amirudin is believed to be overseas and has yet to set a date for the state gathering, even though the national convention is barely a fortnight away.

Anwar’s troubles with Azmin began almost immediately after the party election last year.

Despite the hurdles thrown in Azmin’s way, his team dominated the party polls. Camp Azmin won big, winning 15 of the 20 supreme council seats.

The pro-Azmin group in the Wanita wing made a clean sweep while those aligned to Azmin won 21 out of 25 seats in the Youth wing.

It explains why the two wings have moved in concert with Azmin.

Things quickly went downhill between the top two after Anwar appointed his people to the supreme council and political bureau to shore up support.

“The way he runs the party is not a good reflection of how he will manage the country, ” said Khalid in a parting shot.

The national convention will probably proceed without too many hitches but it will be bad for optics if the deputy president is missing from the stage.

And it could get worse if it turns into an Azmin-bashing session. That would be like drawing public attention to the fact that the party is deeply split.

Azmin recently ran into Hang Tuah Jaya MP Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin in Parliament.

Shamsul used to be with Azmin but has since been won over by Anwar.

They had a terse conversation during which Azmin asked: “You are trying to stab me, to kill me off?”

Shamsul’s reply: “No need to stab anyone, nowadays politicians commit suicide.”

It seems like the Azmin group thinks it is being done in by Anwar while others imagine that Azmin and his supporters are committing political suicide by going against the future prime minister.

The Anwar-Azmin feud has been like a long-running soap opera with no finale in sight.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Star.

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