Dearth of talent a cause for concern for PKR

There ought to be a major clean-up or re-aligning the focus of these young upstarts within the party to increase productivity in serving the constituents as well as debating issues of public concern in both the Parliament and state assemblies.

Muaz Omar, The Malaysian Insider

Buoyed by the recent wins in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections, Pakatan Rakyat is riding high comforted by the fact that the momentum since the 2008 general election has not slowed down.

Even though Barisan Nasional managed to defend their bastion deep in the jungles of Lubok Antu, Pakatan Rakyat managed to afford a smile at their strong showing in Perak and Kedah.

With the by-elections over, Pakatan now has the opportunity to regroup and continue its battle against a battered BN under the newly minted PM.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim must be relieved that he now has a small window and some breathing space to address major housekeeping issues.

The cooperation between Pakatan component parties is beginning to have the look of a cohesive coalition.

The loose coalition during the 2008 general election has improved its strategic alliance by leaps and bounds thanks to the by-elections in Permatang Pauh, Kuala Terengganu, Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau and Batang Ai.

Even though major ideological differences remain unresolved with regards to Islamic state and secular state issues, the coalition has managed to conveniently sweep the problem temporarily under the carpet.

The bigger headache for Anwar is the niggling and endless problems and scandals infecting his own party's reps.

PKR has had to battle allegations of incompetent, corrupted, disloyal and scandal-ridden leaders.

The issue of the revealing photos of Selangor state exco Elizabeth Wong threatens the image of PKR and places immense pressure on the fragile Selangor state government.

Wong has offered to resign her exco position and state assembly seat of Bukit Lanjan to safeguard the image of party.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has subsequently decided to wait for the completion on the investigations into the distribution and publication of the photos before deciding on her status.

This has added undue pressure on Khalid and Pakatan's Selangor state government on the back of news that the PKR state assemblyman for Pelabuhan Kelang may quit the party to join Umno.

PKR leaders together with moderate PAS leaders like Dr Lo' Lo' and Khalid Samad have backed Wong as the aggrieved party.

However, PAS president Datuk Hadi Awang is known to have demanded that Anwar resolve the issue as soon as possible.

In Penang, the issue of former Deputy Chief Minister Mohd Fairus Khairuddin, who was questioned by the MACC on allegations of power abuse and corruption, has compounded the problems faced by Anwar.

However, swift action in getting Fairus to resign from his post and exco seat has mitigated some of the cynicism directed towards the party.

In Perak, the Behrang and Changkat Jong state assemblymen who quit the party have tarnished the image of the party immensely.

These unfortunate series of events have brewed ill-feeling among PAS grassroots leaders who lay the blame on PKR and to a lesser extent DAP due to the defection of the three state assemblymen to BN and the eventual fall of the Perak state government.

The simmering discontent is threatening to split the Pakatan coalition in the silver state.

However, the subsequent wins in the two Bukits have temporarily healed the wounds originating from the successful coup d'etat engineered by new Prime Minister Datuk Najib Razak.

The process of identifying candidates for elections would have to be overhauled to ensure that only those with credibility, ability and competency are selected as candidates.

There is a dearth of quality, capable and able young leaders in the top-most structure of the party.

While there are a clutch of PKR state assemblymen imparting their service with dedication and commitment, most of the young PKR representatives in Parliament and state assemblies have not performed up to the minimum standard.

There ought to be a major clean-up or re-aligning the focus of these young upstarts within the party to increase productivity in serving the constituents as well as debating issues of public concern in both the Parliament and state assemblies.

The public is demanding from PKR a high standard of service.

Thus, Anwar needs to ensure that PKR reps adhere to strict ethical guidelines as well as address the discontent among grassroots leaders of PAS, DAP and PKR.

He currently has his hands full due to problems originating from and involving PKR elected representatives.

More importantly, Anwar would need to put in place a strong structure to monitor performance as well as reprimand out-of-sorts PKR MPs and state assemblymen.

The public might not be so kind in the future if no serious, swift and decisive efforts are taken to address these concerns.

Muaz Omar is a consultant with a regional stakeholders management firm based in Kuala Lumpur.