For PKR, power divides and unites

“It’s tearing PH, particularly PKR, apart but it is also what will keep them together because splitting will likely mean PH losing power.”

(FMT) – One of the key personalities behind the origins of PKR appears unsurprised by the latest bickering among senior party leaders in the wake of a police swoop on those linked to gay sex clips targeting its deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali, saying the party and conflict exist hand-in-hand.

But despite the open fights, Chandra Muzaffar, who quit Parti Keadilan Nasional two years before it was rebranded as PKR following a merger, does not believe the party is heading for a major split which could see warring factions forming new parties.

It’s an ironic situation.

“It’s the struggle for power,” he told FMT when asked to comment on the future of PKR in the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition amid public perception of its disunity.

“It’s tearing PH, particularly PKR, apart but it is also what will keep them together because splitting will likely mean PH losing power.”

Several PKR leaders have been arrested in recent days for their involvement in the distribution of gay sex video clips which went viral early last month.

The party also sacked its Santubong Youth chief Haziq Aziz after his Facebook video naming him and Azmin as the two men seen engaging in homosexual acts in the clips.

Azmin, who was promoted to the federal Cabinet by Dr Mahathir Mohamad after the 2018 election, has strongly denied the claim, speaking of a conspiracy against him by party colleagues.

Yesterday, the infighting went a step further when PKR information chief Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin hinted that Azmin should take leave pending the police probe into the video episode, sparking angry reactions from Azmin and those in his “camp”.

Chandra said the factional conflict in PKR would be difficult to resolve.

He added that party president Anwar Ibrahim is a main character in the conflict.

The main question, he said, is at what point Anwar’s name would be thrown into the mix, warning that this could have an effect on the much-talked of succession plan.

Chandra also said PKR leaders are aware that forming a new party would be suicidal as Azmin is perceived as having the support of Mahathir.

Analyst Azizuddin Sani meanwhile said the “split” in PKR is nothing to worry about as Anwar remains a formidable figure in the party and enjoys more support than Azmin.

“If anything were to happen to Azmin, he would have to fight it alone,” the Universiti Utara Malaysia academic said.

This was not the case when similar sex claims were thrown at Anwar, who was jailed for sodomy, a charge he said was part of a conspiracy.

“No one dares to support him (Azmin), and I believe his political career could end if he is charged and convicted.”

Awang Azman Pawi agreed, saying many PKR leaders are slowly distancing themselves from the economic affairs minister.

One of them is Shamsul, with his appeal for leaders implicated in police investigations to take leave.

“This is an indication that many more of the people closest to Azmin may start distancing themselves from him,” said Awang Azman of Universiti Malaya.

“This is a big political dilemma for Azmin. Many who previously wanted to be associated with his camp, including the opportunists, will start to stay away.”

Azman said many people remember that Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister over allegations of sodomy before police investigations were concluded.

Zaid Ibrahim, who once fought a bitter battle with Azmin for the number two post in PKR, said the issue is about PKR’s credibility.

“When a political party sets aside a solemn promise, when it treats public morality with contempt, the identity of a reformist movement is forever lost,” the former federal minister told FMT.