Anwar’s withdrawal a farce and mockery of PKR polls

Anwar and Azizah

Alyaa Alhadjri, The Ant Daily

While it was not altogether unexpected, it has been confirmed that incumbent PKR president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail will retain her position uncontested at the party’s polls beginning this weekend.

But the news was greeted not so kindly by the weary public and political observers who were already grumpy over the Kajang Move’s unnecessary by-election and now, what some say is a farce and mockery of democratic internal party elections.

PKR elections committee chairman Datuk Johari Abdul announced at a press conference today that PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has withdrawn from contesting against his wife for the party’s top post.

Online portal Free Malaysia Today quoted Johari as saying that Anwar had on April 19 submitted a letter to the committee and announced his decision to withdraw from the race, without stating any reasons.

Johari’s announcement also effectively ended mounting speculations over Anwar’s next move ahead of an upcoming final appeal at the Federal Court against his five-year jail sentence for sodomy.

“Under the current circumstances, the legal team has advised him to concentrate on his case (the appeal) … We do not want the government and ROS to interfere,” he reportedly said.

It is unclear whether the Registrar of Societies (ROS) had this time around officially warned Anwar or PKR of possible risks involved should he decide to go ahead and contest the post but fail to overturn the conviction.

Kangar MP Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad (as then Home Minister) had in 2007, however, reportedly rejected Anwar’s bid to run for the same position against Wan Azizah and Abdul Rahman Othman, upholding the ban imposed in 2003 under Section 9A(1)(b) of the Societies Act 1966, following his first conviction for corruption.

At that time, Anwar was still serving his five-year ban from holding any political position until April 14, 2008, and he was quoted as saying that “the party comes first and my personal ambitions (to be PKR president) are secondary.”

The opposition leader also faced another three-year jail term and a fine of up to RM10,000 if he defied the ban.

“This threat is not just personal. They will use this rule to take action against the party, including deregistering the party,” Anwar was quoted as telling some 2,000 delegates at the party’s annual convention on May 26, 2007.