It’s all about running Azmin out


(The Star) – Outwardly, the contest for the PKR presidency is between a husband and wife with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim facing incumbent Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

But most see it as a ploy to stop deputy president Azmin Ali from vying for the post.

Both Anwar and Dr Wan Azizah submitted their nomination papers through proxies.

The announcement by party election director Datuk Johari Abdul that they were the two candidates nominated for the presidency drew mixed reaction from the party members at the PKR headquarters.

Anwar was proposed by former PKR deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali and seconded by vice-treasurer general Low Chee Chong at about 11am.

Asked if Anwar’s conviction for sodomy could get in the way of the Opposition Leader holding any post in the party, Low said: “His conviction is still under appeal and if it is upheld in the Federal Court, only then will he not be able to hold any posts.”

Party members expect Anwar to pull out, enabling Dr Wan Azizah to be returned unopposed.

In spite of Dr Wan Azizah’s well-known clashes with Azmin, an Anwar protege and loyalist, the husband and wife have always backed each other up politically.

When Anwar was barred from contesting in the Kajang by-election, Dr Wan Azizah stood in his place to lead PKR to victory.

She was party president when he was in jail and won the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat but resigned to make way for Anwar in 2008.

Azmin, who is Gombak MP and Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman, arrived an hour before nominations closed at 5pm.

“I had a long discussion with Anwar before we finally decided that I defend my post of deputy president,” he told reporters.

He declined to confirm or deny speculation that he had originally intended to run for president.

“Well, that is history. What I have decided I have put in my nomination papers,” he said.

“I respect my colleagues who are offering themselves as candidates. I have a good track record not only in the party, but also as a reformist for the past 15 years.”

In Alor Setar, Anwar indicated he has no intention to fight against his wife for the PKR presidency.

“It’s because we know the tactic of Umno to stop me from holding the position, therefore, we have to make preparations. That’s it,” he told the press after the Jelajah Reformasi 2.0 ceramah at the PAS office in Pokok Sena last night.

When asked who should the delegates choose between the two of them, he said if he could contest, he would lead, otherwise, it would be Dr Wan Azizah.

Observers expect the six-way contest to be divisive, with Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution as his strongest opponents.

The others in the running are incumbent vice-president Tian Chua Chang and two relative unknowns – Datuk K. Ramachandram and former PKR Puchong branch chief S. Murali.

Khalid said he hoped for a “fair and clean fight”.

“I don’t want to comment much on this but the contestants need to be ethical and practise what they preach,” he said.

Tian Chua said his seniority would help him.

When asked about his chances against the “top guns”, he said: “I was the first vice-president in the party and have remained so since the foundation. In terms of seniority, I am more senior than other candidates. Am I not a top gun, too?”