PKR President Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim arrives at the Parliament lobby in Kuala Lumpur November 6, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
PKR President Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim arrives at the Parliament lobby in Kuala Lumpur November 6, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 — In a sign befitting PKR’s current internal crisis, there are now two concurrent events confirmed to be taking place this weekend in the name of the party. 

While President Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is set to celebrate the party’s 20th anniversary by officiating the one in Melaka, Malay Mail can now confirm that another one by PKR leaders aligned to Datuk Seri Azmin Ali will likely be held at the same time in KL. 

Why is this happening? 

PKR sources say that since taking over as president in September last year after the Port Dickson by-election, Anwar has been accused of working with a team that has allegedly sidelined his deputy.

The bad blood in PKR is also complicated as both factions control various levels of the party, which makes both sides unable to assume majority support in matters. 

While Anwar controls the powerful political bureau, Azmin commands majority support within the influential Central Leadership Council. 

And while Anwar wields more power nationally, Azmin is seen to command more support within grassroots divisions in crucial PKR states like Selangor, Sabah, Penang and Sarawak.

Sources from both factions told Malay Mail they are aware of the planned move to boycott Anwar’s PKR congress in Melaka and for a parallel one to be held at the Renaissance Hotel in KL.

“The peace negotiation has broken down, so we think this is the best way to ensure the party will not stray from its reformist path,” said a source close to Azmin’s camp, echoing a similar tagline used ironically by Anwar.

The source was referring to reports that PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang was sent as a peace envoy to meet Anwar last week, a claim that was neither confirmed or rejected by the latter.

A poster for the ‘Rapat Keadilan Perjuangan’ meet which has been making its rounds on social media.
A poster for the ‘Rapat Keadilan Perjuangan’ meet which has been making its rounds on social media.

A poster for the event named “Rapat Keadilan Perjuangan” (Keadilan Perjuangan Meet) with the tagline “Return to Reformasi Path” from December 7 – 8 has been making the rounds in social media.

The pro-Azmin source has asserted that the details of the planned event are in fact true.

Another source, this time from Anwar’s side said they are also wary of the meet, saying they have confirmed the name of someone associated with Azmin’s camp.

“We have known that the person has reserved their place in Renaissance Kuala Lumpur on that date. We are aware of it,” the source tells Malay Mail.

Malay Mail also understands that a dinner themed Reformasi 98 will be held in Jalan Ampang Kuala Lumpur, which will be hosted by Chua and will also be held on December 7.

This event will apparently be attended by activists and leaders from Azmin’s faction.

Chua’s absence from the Melaka Congress will be seen as a major blow to Anwar as the former Batu MP has held the PKR vice-president’s post since 2008 and is regarded as a key figure during the 1998 reformasi rallies and Free Anwar movement.

Azmin, on the other hand has confirmed he will be attending the Wanita PKR’s Congress in Melaka on December 5, an event that neither Anwar or his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail will be attending. 

Open season for attacks 

Another source from Azmin’s side said that there will be open criticisms against the party by Wanita and Youth delegates in their respective congresses.

Three main reasons have been cited as the reason for this: PKR’s snub against Azmin in refusing to allow him to officiate the PKR Youth congress, open comments about leaders who missed party meetings as well as the sacking of members without due diligence including Bera Division Chief Zakaria Abd Hamid and the  permanent PKR Youth congress chairman Muhamad Mizan Adli Mohd Nor and deputy Mohd Ramly Ahmad.

“These all show how some people were sidelined from the party. It shows injustice in the so called justice party,” the source said.

The source also said that there will be a show of force by Azmin’s supporters — which included vice-presidents Chua, Zuraida Kamaruddin and 17 MPP members, who among others are deputy Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Abdul Rashid Hasnon, Selangor Menteri Besar Amiruddin Shari, Wanita Chief Haniza Talha, Deputy Wanita Chief Dr Daroyah Alwi and Youth Deputy Chief Hilman Idham.

PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil told Malay Mail that he is aware of the plans of the pro-Azmin faction on December 5 and 6.

“I am going to Wanita Congress as MPP representative.

“We are ready for anything,” he said.

PKR secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail meanwhile yesterday dismissed allegations that a separate congress parallel to the official National Congress will be on the same date in the federal capital.

He said that as the party secretary-general, he had issued only one notice for this year’s congress and any other so-called congress will only be a normal meeting.

“There are prerequisites for an official annual congress, such as the process beginning with annual general meetings at the divisions where the delegates are selected and there is a designated number of delegates attending with a minimum making up the quorum. 

“The congress must be chaired by an appointed permanent chairman and the annual and financial statements will be issued by me. These can happen only at an official annual congress,” he said as reported by Bernama. 

No more room for reconciliation

 Political analysts meanwhile have agreed that the Congress is unlikely to help mend the matters between Anwar and Azmin as both did not seem to want to back down from each other’s way.

University Teknologi Malaysia’s Prof Azmi Hassan said peace between them unlikely to happen soon.“I don’t see it both Azmin and DSAI will mend their ways since the stake for both of them is very high,” he told Malay Mail.

Azmi said PKR needed another highly respected leader outside of the party but within Pakatan Harapan to mediate and iron out the differences between the two giants.

“PKR need somebody very neutral in the party to resolve or at least minimize the feud effect where I truly believed the disastrous Tanjung Piai by election result is partly due to this feud. Unfortunately there are none that can be labelled as a neutral party since most of PKR leaderships has demonstrated their tendency of supporting either Azmin or Anwar openly. 

“So I think need somebody outside of PKR but within PH to resolve the feud if not the Tg Piai scenario will be replicated during GE15,” he said referring to a large Pakatan loss in the by-election last month.

Senior fellow with the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, Oh Ei Sun said that the real issue now is that Azmin seems to be actively preventing Anwar from becoming the next prime minister. 

Speaking to Malay Mail, Oh said that the real reason behind the matter is how Anwar’s aggressive politics are seen as a threat to the Azmin’s faction, especially if the Port Dickson MP could gain the upper hand in the power transition.

“I think the party rift is by now beyond mending. Anwar would have to either give way to Azmin or take more drastic actions to reclaim his primacy within the party, and at the same time force Dr Mahathir’s hands,” he said.