Toe party line to get our seats, says PKR

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal and Shannon Teoh, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — PKR will only consider candidates from non-Pakatan Rakyat (PR) groups if they agree firmly to the coalition’s policies, said deputy president Azmin Ali yesterday.

He said the youngest party in the opposition pact is open to candidates from organisations such as the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) and even giving Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) more seats if they were willing to abide by the coalition’s whip.

“We can discuss with them. But if they still want to be independent, what’s the point?” the Gombak MP said of MCLM, which has said that it will propose 30 “defection-proof” candidates to offer to PKR.

If elected, MCLM said that its candidates will decide on issues based on their conscience rather than the coalition’s consensus. It is only offering candidates to PKR, not other PR parties such as the DAP and PAS.

Azmin, who is now also election director, said that PKR’s top leadership including de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim held a meeting with PSM over the weekend to discuss seat allocation for the next general election.

“They have been loyal to us, more so than some of those who ran and defected. So, we have no problems giving them another two seats as long as they continue to stand with us,” he said of the party that had also contested in 2004 and 2008 under PKR’s symbol.

Of the four candidates who ran in 2008, PSM claimed two victories as Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj won PSM’s first-ever parliamentary seat by defeating then-MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu in Sungai Siput while PSM president Dr Nasir Hashim won the Kota Damansara seat in the Selangor state legislative assembly.

Chief strategist Rafizi Ramli also admitted that it was wary of accepting candidates offered by MCLM because it wanted to avoid making the same “mistake” of 2008 where it had picked candidates who could not withstand the pressure and challenges of being a lawmaker.

He said that while the party was “open” to MCLM’s offer and accepted the movement’s criticisms against the party, PKR will in the end make its own choice and will choose its own party members who have had experience being grassroots leaders as well as being involved in politics.

“While we are open to suggestions, the candidates must subscribe to our struggle. We are a political party with structure and rules. We have already gone through a painful experience with the ‘frogs’ where in the past we took people who were less experienced and they jumped (at the first given opportunity).