Husband vs wife ruse in PKR


Wong Sai Wan, The Malay Mail

Much speculation has arisen over the supposed tussle between Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail for the PKR presidency but the truth may be it is more of an arrangement rather than a confrontation.

It will be a newsman’s dream (and the Barisan Nasional’s as well) to have Anwar slug it out with Wan Azizah in public for the post which will give the victor a chance of becoming the future prime minister of the country, especially since the federal opposition parties are claiming that they will wrest power in the next general election.

However, Anwar is a shrewd politician and he wouldn’t allow a public contest between him and his wife unless he had planned it and was sure that it would benefit him and his party’s chances of winning the next general election.

So what is this supposed arrangement between him and his wife?

A senior party official, when asked about it, remarked that things were always not what it seemed in PKR and that there was no feud between the party’s number one couple.

According to the official, there were two reasons for the arrangement:

• Anwar’s latest conviction for sodomy; and

• To ensure that the party leadership does not fall into the “wrong hands”.

Everyone in the party wants Anwar to be the president and so does Wan Azizah who had earlier this year announced her retirement as the party boss. But Anwar’s recent conviction for sodomy (again) has put paid to her plan.

On March 7, the Court of Appeal reversed Anwar’s 2012 acquittal of sodomising his former Aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan and also handed him a five-year jail term.

He is supposed to have committed the offence at the Desa Damansara condominium on June 26, 2008.

Under Section 9A(1)(b) of the Societies Act, a person is disqualified from holding positions in a registered society if he or she is convicted of any offence and fined not less than RM2,000 or jailed not less than a year.

His lawyer Karpal Singh said Anwar could still contest and could appeal to the Registrar of Societies (RoS) for an exemption.

It can be assumed that although he can appeal, Anwar is not taking any chances and had asked his wife to also contest in case he is disqualified.

Thus, if he is not allowed to contest, then Wan Azizah can continue to lead the party with his guidance in the background.

The question then is why didn’t Anwar get another of his trusted lieutenants to contest instead of his wife?

It is a well-known fact that the party deputy president and Anwar’s most trusted lieutenant Azmin Ali is eyeing the presidency but has instead chosen to defend his present position against five other contestants.

Does this mean that speculation of Azmin falling out of favour with Anwar is true? Anwar does not trust him to run the party in case he has to go to jail?

The same official said the arrangement for the husband versus wife contest was the best way to prevent further factionalism within the party.

“A new personality to lead the party going into GE14 would be disruptive.”

Azmin’s ascension could lead to his rivals within the party — namely Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and Anwar’s daughter and party vice president Nurul Izzah – to oppose him publicly.

Anwar and Wan Azizah have always been the uniting factor for PKR and they would not like to see the party split if they can help it.

The husband and wife arrangement can be seen as a move to check Azmin’s ambition but the five challengers for the deputy presidency throws a different dimension to the plan of just checking him.

Khalid is making a second attempt for the number two post while another Anwar loyalist, Tian Chua, is also making a bid as is party secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

It would be difficult to believe that Chua, an incumbent vice-president, and Saifuddin are not aware of the consequences of their candidacies.

It would be the end of Azmin’s political ambition if they manage to unseat him and with so many pro-Anwar boys contesting, doesn’t this mean that Khalid will stand a better chance of winning because their votes would be split three ways.

Khalid is said to have the backing of Wan Azizah and Nurul Izzah. Come May, it could be possible that Wan Azizah, once said to be a reluctant politician, will get full control of the party if Khalid comes in as the number two.

PKR party elections are scheduled to start on April 25.