Saturday, February 6, 2010

As Anwar faces prison, PKR infighting intensifies

By Adib Zalkapli

PKR's de facto leaderm Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is facing an impending prison sentence following the latest sodomy trial. - Picture by Jack Ooi
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — With its de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim facing a career ending sodomy trial, infighting over election candidacy and party positions continues in PKR.
At least one MP was under pressure to vacate his seat recently and another leader became a victim of a smear campaign to stop his rise in the party ranks. Anwar has not been able to address the issues due to the ongoing sodomy trial that began on Feb 2. Late last month, Indera Mahkota MP Azan Ismail resigned as the Pahang PKR deputy chairman, a move which started speculation that the first term lawmaker was planning to defect to Barisan Nasional (BN). State party officials opposed to Azan also began spreading rumours of an impending by-election in Indera Mahkota, a move seen as an attempt to replace Azan with Pahang PKR chairman Datuk Fauzi Abdul Rahman as MP.

Zahrain (middle) is becoming a major headache for the PKR leadership. - Picture by Choo Choy May

“Before March 8, he was afraid to contest under PKR, but now after we have two seats now he is eyeing Indera Mahkota,” said a source close to the state PKR in referring to Fauzi, who was deputy information minister and last contested under the BN banner in 1999. He joined PKR in 2008, after the general election.The PKR insider alleged that Fauzi had failed to deliver his promise to bring in more senior Umno leaders into the party after he joined PKR. “He’s unable to strengthen the party and yet wants to ride on our past success,” he added. Fauzi however dismissed the allegation that he is interested in taking over Indera Mahkota from Azan.
“Even if I am asked to I will not accept it, I don’t want, all the incumbents should be retained, I can go to other places, I can go to Pekan, Temerloh or even Raub,” said Fauzi. PKR won two parliamentary seats in Pahang, Indera Mahkota and Kuantan, which represented by the party election chief Fuziah Salleh. “I have nothing personal against him, I believe we should not let infighting in the party divert our attention,” Fauzi told The Malaysian Insider. “I have been in politics for the past 30, 40 years, I can read his feelings, he is a first-timer, but I think he is handling his job well,” he added.

Azan has revealed attempts by Malaysian ambassador to the United States Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis and Parti Cinta Malaysia’s Huan Cheng Guan to get him to abandon PKR. The PKR’s internal crisis has also made its disciplinary committee busier than ever. Three lawmakers Zulkifli Nordin, Datuk Seri Zahrain Hashim and Tan Tee Beng have been referred to the disciplinary committee for their outburst against PKR’s partners in Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

Also ordered to face the disciplinary committee is former law minister and architect of PR’s common policy framework Datuk Zaid Ibrahim for criticising the party for not taking immediate action against Zulkifli – who had lodged a police report against PAS’s Khalid Samad over the “Allah” row.

Since joining the party in June last year, the Kelantanese political maverick has been seen as an ideal candidate to lead the party should Anwar go to prison for his second sodomy charge.

“His image, and his role in unifying Pakatan is seen as a threat by some leaders since this is election year, it has resulted in attacks from within the party,” said another PKR insider.

The Malaysian Insider understands that during the PR inaugural convention last December, efforts were made by some party officials to downplay Zaid’s contribution to the coalition policy framework. The party is scheduled to hold its election by the end of this year, and intense contest is expected for PKR deputy presidency, as the incumbent Dr Syed Husin Ali will not defend the post. Anwar’s wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail remains president of the party founded in 1999.

* This article is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The blog owner does not endorse the view unless specified.

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