PKR’s Anwar dilemma: Reforming the reformasi


Hazlan Zakaria, The Ant Daily

COMMENT: While PKR braces for internecine conflict as campaigning for its party polls hots up, there is the distant hope for it to redeem itself from just being the political vehicle of de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

But whether or not the party, or the senior leaders themselves are ready for it, is another thing altogether.

The Chinese character for crisis is “weiji”, a combination of “wei” meaning danger and “ji” which can be roughly translated to opportunity or pivotal moment.

And certainly the political party’s current crisis presents a pivotal moment for it to reinvent itself from just being under the de facto leader’s shadow, while presenting the danger of being a one dimensional party.

Anwar is no doubt the linchpin of power in PKR, but perhaps he can continue to be the guiding light without the need for him, or his family, to dominate the party.

But the matter is moot in the coming polls as only he and his wife Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail are contesting for the president’s seat.

However, Anwar has been consulting with lawyers on the possibility that his party post be rendered null along with his parliament seat if he fails in his appeal against the Appeals Court’s overturning of his sodomy acquittal.

This is because the punishment in his sentence is more than the limit allowed for party office holder and elected representatives as specified in the constitution.

While it is too late for him to withdraw as the deadline has passed, perhaps he can issue a de facto declaration for votes to go to his wife, and perhaps to stop blocking others from contesting the post in the future.

After all his legacy is already assured with his daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar, already a vice-president and rising star within the party.

For the good of the party, perhaps it is time for him to gracefully take a step back to allow the party to evolve beyond him into an entity of its own.

But at the moment there are those like Selangor MB and deputy president hopeful Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim who still see Anwar as the necessary glue that holds the party together.

“We must work with Anwar, even though we might not be 100% agreeable with his visions. We must evaluate them with our own mind and wisdom. It is working with Anwar that makes PKR stronger,” he reportedly said

Khalid, fresh from a “cold war” with the de facto leader over retaining his post as Selangor MB, also saw the need to check and balance Anwar’s influence, why he said he offered himself as deputy president candidate as he is not the usual “yes-man”

The MB went head to head with the party during the much publicised Kajang move which is supposed to see Anwar elected into the state legislative assembly and as hinted by his close aides, take over Selangor as a base to take over Putrajaya.

Indeed for someone who is seemingly on a collision course with Anwar, Khalid is cavalier with the de facto leader’s influence in the party.

Ironically, it is Anwar loyalist and long-time supporter deputy president Azmin Ali who seems set, if not eager so, on the road to making PKR a true political party with its own agenda, sans the de facto leader’s influence.

Azmin reportedly said that PKR was not Anwar-centric and it must give opportunity and space for the second generation to take the helm.

Not surprisingly, his view was almost immediately endorsed by his ally women’s wing chief Zuraida Kamaruddin who believe that party has to come out of Anwar’s shadow to mature and survive.

But then again, his not-so-covert attempt at displacing Anwar was already evident in his veiled attacks towards nepotism and tales of Istana Bukit Segambut being stirred by his own supporters.

Istana Bukit Segambut is the label used to describe Anwar and his family’s dominance of PKR in attacks disguised as political intellectualism by Azmin’s supporters.