By Sajahan Waheed and Aidi Amin, NSTWHEN Parti Keadilan Rakyat opened up its direct election process to ordinary members, little did it realise that this would expose frailties that would have otherwise been kept under wraps. Incidents of throwing chairs and punches became synonymous with some of the more fractious divisional elections held in Kapar, Klang, Kota Raja, Sabak Bernam, Petaling Jaya Selatan and Kuala Langat.
These incidents are a result of dissatisfaction among members following allegations of money politics, electoral malpractices, cheating and biased election officers.
What has gone wrong with a party that has been promising a new brand of politics?
A former PKR official, who became disenchanted with the party, said the basic issue was the quality of PKR members. The party did not have a filtering process for those seeking membership.
"If you notice, there has been an influx of membership since the last general election.
"One wonders if these people are joining PKR because they believe in its ideologies and principles or because they think the party has a 'good' future."
A "good future" is euphemism for patronage, and principles and ideologies of the party have not been properly articulated.
The party has been preoccupied with accusing its opponents of being bad, hence the prospects of things being better if the party was preferred by voters.
Just who are the new members?
One big component are supporters of political leaders, who have had their careers -- at the tail-end -- resurrected by PKR.
A source said that "some of the new members do not even believe in the politics rooted against the tradition of homogeneity".
And there are also cases of some who failed to make it big in their respective parties and are merely jumping on the PKR bandwagon because of the party's popularity.
"With these opportunists, it is not hard to imagine the infighting," said the source.
Also, PKR could well lack a political culture and discipline.
It is a multiracial party that has yet to produce the right mix, as opposed to, say, Umno which is properly represented by all the core segments -- middle classes, profess-ionals, the elites, teachers, businessmen, and those with religious backgrounds.
Is there mentoring and political education in a party eager to show numerical strength to justify its prominent role in Pakatan Rakyat?