COMMENT | There is no more necessity to deny it. No matter how Anwar Ibrahim tried to put on a brave front and claimed that all is well in PKR, it is clear there is an intense power struggle in the party.
So dear Anwar, it’s time to own up that factionalism exists in the party which you lead. There is no point to dismiss or hide the problems any longer.
Even the village idiots in Lenga, Johor, or Baram in Sarawak, know the truth. Do not lie to your party members in those far-flung corners anymore. They are not blind to what is going on in the party.
As the party president, it is understandable for Anwar to resort to damage control. He has attempted to project an image of unity and solidarity within the party. That is well and good.
However, by doing so over such a long period and achieving nothing in the process, Anwar could be giving the other camp in the party too much "face" which they probably don’t deserve.
That has been going on for almost a year since Anwar assumed the PKR presidency. It is clear his noble intention has been futile. It’s now time for the party president to face reality.
At least, Zuraida Kamaruddin has been more forthcoming. The PKR vice-president is among the first senior leader to publicly concede that there are serious problems besetting the party.
Zuraida is telling the truth, of course. Her detractors have described her as a “loudmouth” and given her other demeaning names but to me, Zuraida is being honest.
That is her plus point on this issue and she deserves credit no matter what her motives might be.
You can clearly see the fighter in Zuraida. She is a political animal, able to handle the shots coming her way and returned fire with fire.
Anwar and PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution were recent recipients of her fierce salvoes.
When Anwar issued a stern reminder to his deputy Azmin Ali and gang to attend party meetings, Zuraida shot back.
“Call the reconciliation meeting first," she told Anwar, insisting that her president respond to the three letters she wrote to the leadership requesting the meeting be held.
When Saifuddin replied, Zuraida told him she would not recognise a response from a non-elected party official (the PKR secretary-general is appointed).
To outsiders, those Zuraida salvos could be deemed awkward, disrespectful even, especially to Anwar who is the party president. It also appeared that Zuraida and her group are prepared to burn bridges with the leadership.
In the case of Saifuddin, he could either feel awkward or humiliated by Zuraida’s retort. Surely, Zuraida must be aware that the secretary-general is responding on behalf of the president.
If she dares to challenge the party president, who is the secretary-general to Zuraida?
So is Zuraida telling the party leaders that “Either you do it my way or no way”? If so, that is a sign of holding the leadership to ransom. This is gross indiscipline which should not be tolerated.
At times, I find Anwar’s tolerance level of Azmin, Zuraida and their camp both incredible and disappointing. Incredible because the party president is giving too much leeway despite the zero efforts to reconcile by the other side.
Disappointing because Anwar is wasting too much time pandering to the dictates of his deputy’s group.
To those outside, they must be asking, “Who is Azmin? Who is Zuraida? Why are they given preferential treatment in the party? Are they so powerful and indispensable in PKR?”
Anwar has to answer those questions. He owes it to the people, and party members certainly, to explain what is going on and what makes Azmin and gang so special, if they really are.
It’s time for Anwar to act tough, stop being nice and come down hard on Azmin and gang.
Disciplinary action must be taken against those who flout the party’s regulations. There should be no two ways around that.
In a political party, no leader or member is above the rules of the organisation. The regulations must be enforced on all, irrespective of party position.
Ordinary Malaysians are not interested in the internal struggles of political parties. What they know well enough is that such conflicts are caused by greed for power and position.
In this case, it does not bother me whether it’s Anwar or Azmin who wins in the end because both men are crazy for power and position. Their ultimate target is to be prime minister. Tell me I’m wrong!
If Anwar is unprepared to clamp down on party dissenters despite giving them more than enough time and leeway to make good, that will cast him as a weak and indecisive leader.
The way Anwar has been handling his party problems does not speak well of him. Strength, vigour and courage are lacking.
And that does not give Malaysians much confidence in the incoming prime minister.
FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org