“ON a scale of one to 10, where one is good and 10 is worst, how’s the relationship between Anwar and Azmin?” I asked Senator Yusmadi Yusoff of PKR.
“Based on my observation, it is good. So, it is at least about seven,” said the former Balik Pulau MP.
Yusmadi noted that in the last few days people have been asking him whether PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali were on a collision course.
He is fed up with such questions. It is not the real challenge that Malaysians should focus on, he said.
“For me, the issue is we have to think of using the potential of the experience of politicians such as Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar, Azmin, Nurul Izzah Anwar and Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin to collaborate (muafakat secara muafakat) for the bigger agenda of the country.”
If we only think about who is going to be the next Prime Minister, it would not solve our country’s problems, he added.
I asked the same question of a PKR founding member.
The PKR leader, who did not want to be identified, declined to answer, saying that politics should not be personal.
“Personal relationships are secondary. We are running a political party. And it can’t be run based on feeling,” he said.
The PKR deputy president is an organisational man who follows procedure, he noted.
Azmin’s recent outburst – on his president’s appointment of additional top office bearers – was unprecedented. Anwar’s appointments included party leaders linked to Rafizi Ramli, who lost in his bid to unseat the PKR deputy president.
“When Azmin makes a statement like that, it is something serious. The appointments go against the sense of fairness and justice in the justice party,” he said. “It was grossly unfair.”
For Azmin to have a working relationship with Anwar, the PKR founding member said that it must be conducted properly and fairly.
“How can you have a working relationship when you appoint people who have lost against Team Azmin?” he said. “Why give carte blanche – almost – to Rafizi’s people. Is that fair?”
“What is going on in PKR between Anwar and Azmin?” I asked.
The PKR founding member said it is difficult to deny that there is a fight. According to him, it happened when Anwar, as party president, took a partisan position.
Anwar, he said, had secured the post of president because Azmin did not want to contest against him, although there were many people who suggested he should take on the party president.
“But Azmin believed that even if he won, the party would be split. Anwar should appreciate that,” he said.
Unfortunately, he said, Anwar took the side of Team Rafizi against Team Azmin.
“Anwar made a mistake by being partisan. That is the crux of the matter,” said the PKR founding member, who is linked to Azmin.
“But isn’t Azmin vs Rafizi just a symptom of the root of the problem, which is the ambition of Anwar and Azmin to be Prime Minister?” I asked.
“Everyone has the right to want to be PM. But somehow there are some people who believe that it is Anwar’s entitlement to be Prime Minister. They are pushing for it,” said the PKR founding member.
The public, he said, had accused PKR of being a single-issue party – “Free Anwar Ibrahim”. The party has battled that image as it wants to articulate that it is focused on broad-based economic, social and education policies.
“Why suddenly bring back the perception that we are a single-issue party by saying we want to make sure that Anwar is the next Prime Minister?
“Why do we want to bring the party to that level? That is what Rafizi is doing. That, I cannot accept,” he said.
Yusmadi, who insists that Anwar and Azmin have a good relationship, noted that Azmin too has his own ambitious agenda.
“Is it wrong to have an ambitious agenda? It is not wrong. The only thing wrong is to have an unscrupulous ambition,” he said.
An unscrupulous agenda, according to Yusmadi, is not about the people but about self-interest.
The Senator gave an example of what was not unscrupulous agenda.
Anwar, he said, had shown that he can forgive his enemy for the greater good of the country.
“Anwar can even become Prime Minister immediately, as he was pardoned but he did not because he believes in the Pakatan Harapan consensus.
“He believes in the bigger agenda, and more importantly, he believes in the potential of Tun (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) to assist Malaysia now,” he said.
“But now why are people saying that Anwar can’t do this, can’t do that? People forget that he was denied his rights unceremoniously. For me, those who try to deny Anwar’s rights are those who have an unscrupulous agenda.”
“Who will win in an Anwar vs Azmin fight?” I asked.
The PKR founding member laughed and quoted a passage from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
“If you can look into the seeds of time, And say which grain will grow and which will not / Speak then to me who neither beg nor fear / Your favours nor your hate,” he said.
“All I can say is Malaysia deserves the best. The public sees Anwar as a man in a hurry to succeed. He provoked this perception by meeting the Sultans, trying to get Umno MPs – which he initiated first. Meeting with Sabah leaders and Sarawak leaders. It is also provoked by statements from his people.”
For Yusmadi, the answer to the question of who will be the next Prime Minister will come naturally. The position belongs to whoever has the vision to better the country.
“Anwar has an unfinished vision (as he was sacked as Deputy Prime Minister in 1998). He wants this country to reject racism and adopt an economic policy based on the needs of different races,” he said.
“He has a vision to create a democratic Malaysia where we respect the rule of law and encourage civil society. For me, we have to give a chance to a leader who has such a vision.”
On a scale of one to 10, who would you want to be the next Prime Minister?