PKR’s internal war may cost Anwar the PM’s post, say analysts

(FMT) – Two analysts have warned that PKR president Anwar Ibrahim’s chances of becoming prime minister have been put at risk by the widening rift between his faction and that of deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali.

James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute and Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia noted that the infighting has spread to the party’s divisions in various states as well as its youth wing.

Chin said Anwar must work quickly to end the discord or certain parties might cite it as the chief reason for their objection to his takeover of the prime minister’s post from Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“The whole thing makes PKR look very bad and will definitely affect the power transition,” he said. “People will have serious doubts that PKR is capable of ruling the country.”

He told FMT both Anwar and Azmin had been cast in a bad light by the infighting.

He said the current conflict in PKR Youth was a result of the rivalry between the two, adding that a similar situation might be brewing in the party’s women’s wing.

The rift has resulted in a number of disputes, such as one involving a decision on the person most appropriate to open the youth wing’s congress and another which ended with the Sarawak PKR convention going ahead despite state chief Baru Bian’s insistence on its cancellation.

Factions in PKR Youth have been in a tit-for-tat over the sacking of its permanent chairman and deputy chairman, with one side claiming it was illegitimate and the other maintaining it was in accordance with regulations.

Azmi told FMT the sacking was probably due to the decision by the two to openly show support for Azmin.

He said he found it hard to believe the youth leadership’s explanation that the two were removed because they were not qualified to be youth members since they were older than 35.

“The question that begs to be answered is why now, with the PKR congress looming?” he added.

He expects Anwar to use the party’s upcoming national convention to stamp his authority on the party that he founded, but he warned of a “full-scale boycott” by Azmin’s faction.

“If this boycott comes about, then it will spell a very difficult future for PKR,” he said. “Its internal power struggle will occur more openly.

“This internal strife will also affect Pakatan Harapan (PH) as the government of the day since the party is considered the pillar of PH together with DAP.”

He also said the squabble had made Anwar and Azmin appear keener to “fulfil their political egos” than to serve the people.

“I’m not saying it’s their real intention, but that’s the effect of their squabble on the general public’s perception,” he said.