Factionalism will breed in PKR if polls are not conducted smoothly

Zubaidah Abu Bakar

Chaos has reigned in almost all states, with re-elections ordered in problematic PKR divisions and guilty party members either sacked or suspended. Selangor accounts for more than 30% of the total number of eligible votes, which currently stands at more than 500,000, making the divisions from the state the most hotly contested.

Zubaidah Abu Bakar, The Rakyat Post

VERBAL abuse, throwing of chairs, punching, kicking of ballot boxes and stealing ballot boxes are some of the unpleasant incidents we have witnessed during Parti Keadilan Rayat’s elections’ voting process this year.

Chaos reigned in almost all states, with re-elections ordered in problematic divisions and guilty party members either sacked or suspended following these altercations.

Fresh polls were ordered in 27 divisions following various discrepancies and irregularities in the voting process, that was earlier scheduled from April 26 to May 11.

The party has so far conducted re-election in 25 divisions, with polls in Puchong and Kelana Jaya to be conducted on Aug 10.

All these ugly scenes no doubt have dented PKR’s image as a proponent of democracy and fair elections.

The party had also become the target of widespread criticisms from political opponents since PKR leaders have always been vocal critics of how national elections should be run.

The PKR leadership may not want to admit it, but a flawed election would affect how the party moves forward after the polls and how its new leadership would heal the rifts created during campaigning.

Since this was the second time that PKR had opted for the direct-voting system in electing its leaders, fewer problems were expected.

The first was in the 2010 as it was the party’s aim to bring back democracy to its members. That, too, saw  a lot of ugly scenes.

In fact, the 2010 party polls controversies led former Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim to quit PKR over claims that the polls were manipulated for deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali to win.

The same allegation surfaced this time around and it remains just that for now since there is no proof to substantiate such claims.

As usual, PKR leaders refused to acknowledge the party’s weaknesses despite the flawed election process and problems that arose due to the power struggle among those vying for senior party positions .

Instead, they pointed fingers at others outside the party.

The violence and gangster-like actions displayed during the elections have been blamed on triad members and “rookie party members” who joined the party very close to the election dates.

These so-called saboteurs were accused of thwarting the voting process and tarnishing the party’s image.

No names were mentioned as being responsible for the chaotic situation, but it is habitual of PKR leaders like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to shift the blame on Umno for anything not good happening to PKR.

Anwar had said non-members involved in these untoward incidents were believed to have deliberately created chaos by trespassing into voting centres.

Bringing up the issue of new members who registered in time to be eligible to vote appeared to be suggesting they were planted to create havoc during the elections.

His wife, Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who had won the PKR presidency uncontested, issued a statement warning outsiders not  to hinder the election process, claiming the chaos were “triggered by identified non-members, powered by gangsters”.

For the party’s election committee chief Datuk Johari Abdul, problems that arose during the polls were mere manageable hiccups.