A never-ending civil war


IN the movie Captain America: Civil War, the Avengers are divided over political pressure for the superheroes to be accountable for their action which usually ends up in mass destruction.

One faction is led by Captain America and the other by Iron Man. “I’d like to punch you in those perfect teeth,” Iron Man tells Captain America.

Just like the movie, a civil war (yet again) has surfaced on Planet PKR after its Permatang Puah MP Nurul Izzah Anwar gave a controversial interview to a Singapore newspaper.

Nurul Izzah told The Straits Times that she was “broken-hearted” having to once work again with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who she described as a “former dictator”.

PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohd Azmin Ali, who leads Team Azmin, posted a not-so-subtle tweet saying the country does not need crybabies and if they can’t take the heat, they need to get out of the kitchen. But the Economic Affairs Minister later claimed that his statement was aimed at himself.

Others in Team Azmin such as PKR vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin was literally punching Nurul Izzah’s perfect teeth.

Team Anwar led by PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim fought back. PKR central leadership council member Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad tweeted: “When a lady makes a stand, call her a cry baby? Cheap, very cheap”.

Superheroes from Planet Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia also whacked Nurul Izzah.

To get an insight on what’s happening on Planet PKR, I WhatsApp-ed Farhash Wafa Salvador, who was Anwar’s political secretary. I asked him whether the party was facing a civil war, and whether it was because Azmin considered himself as prime minister-in-waiting.

“There are divided opinions, but it is a sign of healthy democracy. Any politician is free to envision himself as prime minister after Anwar takes office,” said the Perak PKR chairman.

Political researcher Dr Abdul Latiff Mohd Ibrahim was less diplomatic

“Azmin, by commenting on Nurul’s statement, only put himself up to shame in the sense that he seems to be on the wrong side of public opinion,” he said.

“People see Nurul as being selfless and standing up to power by stating what was needed to be said, especially in the PAC chairman episode. Azmin’s comments have been dismissed by and large because he went against the mood for reform.”

On how bad the civil war was in PKR, Abdul Latiff said: “Since Anwar is the prime ministerial candidate decided by the Pakatan Harapan presidential council, yet with an ambitious Azmin, the ‘war’ between the two continues with sporadic ‘firings’ from both sides.”

From social media postings and political commentaries on news portals, the general public has a sense that the PKR civil war is because Anwar and Azmin consider themselves as PM-in-waiting.

But unless you are a PKR insider, you can’t be that sure, as in Malaysian politics, politicians in a leadership tussle play wayang kulit. Nothing is seen on the surface until the keris is unsheathed and the stab of betrayal is thrust.

Take for example, the Dr Mahathir and Anwar political fight when both were prime minister and deputy prime minister respectively in 1998. A day before the Umno president sacked his

Umno deputy president as deputy prime minister, Dr Mahathir described his relations with Anwar as “good”.

If Malaysia was Wakanda, the most technologically advanced civilisation on earth from the movie Black Panther, the leadership fight would literally be a fight – trial by combat. No political wayang kulit, whoever wins the combat ( which will be to the death) is king. I would prefer this action-packed movie any time as it would spare us the political drama.

On whether Nurul Izzah was playing a political wayang kulit when she gave the controversial interview, a PKR insider said “No”.

“She was speaking as a daughter who went through a phase that should never happen to anyone. We tend to forget what Nurul Izzah has done in championing the ideals of reformasi. Let us move on together as Malaysians and empathise with her and be more human,” said the politician who did not want to be identified.

He added that Nurul Izzah was critical of Dr Mahathir’s inconsistencies and it led to her to rekindle her views in the past.

“Nurul Izzah is still building her trust and actions speak louder than words,” he said.

Abdul Latiff said he did not think that Permatang Pauh MP talking to a foreign paper was really the issue. It was, he said, rather whether she should have said what she said.

“You have the new Malaysia spirit where everything is supposed to be transparent and open especially when they are not on national secrets. Hence what she said about the government under Tun Mahathir is not the issue here but whether both sides can take it positively,” he said.

“There is no need to make it a zero-sum game. Anyway, Nurul’s main grouses were on the promises made by Pakatan which were not fulfilled. But she may have also not realised the realpolitik of the present. A heart to heart chat with the premier would have given her the answers she needed.”

Hence, the political researcher said communication problems sometimes compound the situation. On Nurul Izzah quitting from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Abdul Latiff said it was nothing new.

The MP had relinquished her posts (including vice-president) in the party and government earlier, he said. However, Nurul Izzah did not give the reasons for that action except indirectly alluding to the entry of ex Umno leaders into Bersatu and the infighting between the two camps in PKR.

“But one could sense her dissatisfaction and dismay over developments in the ruling party. She did not say anything towards Team Azmin but was just voicing out her disgust for the decision to retain the PAC chairman, which people would say was one based on principles,” he said.

“Of course, indirectly, this would also be seen as a message to Tun that he is wavering from the reform agenda and if he cannot uphold what has been promised, he should consider handing over the reins to Anwar. But Tun has acknowledged the fact that the PAC chairman should be from the Opposition.”

In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos – the purple-faced alien supervillain – destroyed half of all life across the universe with just a snap of his fingers, disintegrating superheroes like Black Panther, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and Groot.

The divided politicians on Planet PKR should instead learn from Captain America: Civil War which has a motto - United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

If they don’t, Thanos might snap his fingers and half of the superheroes on Planet PKR would disintegrate. Planet PKR might not have a Captain Marvel to save it.


   

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