PKR grassroots unhappy with party’s handling of Najib’s commuted sentence

Division leaders say PKR seems to be going against the principles it once preached.

(FMT) – PKR grassroots are unhappy with the party’s handling of former prime minister Najib Razak’s reduced sentence, leaving division leaders fearing that members may boycott future elections.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a division leader from the Klang Valley said many members are at a loss as to how to defend the party in the face of criticism.

The leader said PKR was vocal when it came to the 1MDB issue and had even pushed for Najib to be jailed.

“But our leaders seem to be keeping mum over the commuted sentence and calling out members who speak up on the issue,” he told FMT.

The division leader also claimed that members were upset the leadership had not only rejected the views of activists within the party, but also told them to “practise party discipline”.

He said such a stance ran contrary to the party’s values.

“We preached a lot prior to (the last) elections,” he said, referring to the anti-corruption narrative espoused by the party during the campaign trail.

“People took our word for it. But now that we are in power, we are the exact opposite of what the voters wanted us to be.”

On Jan 30, the Federal Territories Pardons Board halved Najib’s jail term from 12 years to six in connection with the SRC International case. It also slashed his fine from RM210 million to RM50 million.

Najib began serving his jail term on Aug 23, 2022 after the Federal Court upheld his conviction and sentence in the case involving the former 1MDB subsidiary.

Another division leader reminded the PKR leadership that being a team player did not mean one could not raise the alarm over matters that went against its principles.

“In the past, we welcomed opinions and criticism from party members regardless of their position as long as they were made without malice and within the boundaries of the party’s constitution,” he said, commenting on PKR information chief Fahmi Fadzil’s response to a former vice-president.

Fahmi had told N Surendran to practise party discipline after the former Padang Serai MP expressed unhappiness over Pakatan Harapan’s “shameful” silence on the sedition probe on former Damansara MP Tony Pua.

Surendran subsequently quit PKR, which led to Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim urging Fahmi to be more cautious when responding to criticism or risk seeing more activists leaving the party.

The source said that since PKR became part of the unity government with former rivals Umno, “our democratic principles have been compromised”.

“We had to accept cooperation with Barisan Nasional for the greater good (of the nation). But should that also mean tailoring our beliefs to please them?

“There are no free lunches, and at times of peace, the ‘generals’ who have helped the party’s battle are viewed as a nuisance,” he said.