PKR vs PKR: A trip down memory lane

Soo Wern Jun
Datuk Seri Azmin Ali (left) chats with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim during KBN2018 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — PKR dominated the headlines recently as a fight between a faction aligned to president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and another faction backing deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali broke out into the open.

That was resolved last night when Azmin met Anwar.

Despite the high drama of it all, PKR’s internal party crisis is not really news.

Some may (or may not) know that this is not the first time the party’s infighting has become public. 

For the past decade, PKR has had some well-publicised squabbles both as members of the ruling coalition and in the past as members of the now-defunct opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat. 

Malay Mail compiled a timeline of said events dating back all the way to 2010.

2019: ‘Selective’ sacking

The reactions from senior PKR leaders over the sacking of two party members allegedly involved in corruption is said to be a reflection of the rivalry between Team Anwar and Team Azmin.

Party leaders aligned to Anwar had defended the decision, while leaders aligned to Azmin said disciplinary action taken against Bera PKR division chief and Pahang PKR member Ismail Dulhadi was selective.

A memorandum was subsequently sent by Azmin to the party’s disciplinary board signed by 19 other central committee members rejecting the decision.

Following this, PKR Youth permanent chairman Muhammad Mizan Adli Mohd Nor and his deputy Mohd Ramly Ahmad were sacked because they were over 35 years of age.

According to PKR Youth chief, Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir, they were sacked following party’s rules and constitution.

Mizan and Ramly had since disputed that their positions in the Youth wing were not limited to those aged 35 and below.

Both Mizan and Ramly are known to be aligned to Azmin.

It is said that Azmin’s faction has strained relations with Anwar after the deputy president’s invitation to officiate the Youth congress was withdrawn.

This also led to several Youth wing leaders who are aligned to Azmin are now demanding that a vote of no-confidence be called against Anwar.

In a joint statement issued on December 1, the Youth leaders claimed that Anwar was undermining the party’s own reform agenda with his attempts to kick out leaders who are perceived as not supportive of his leadership. 

The group also accused Anwar of being focused only on his personal agenda — becoming the next prime minister.

2019: All because of a Youth congress

Azmin was supposed to officiate PKR’s Youth congress on December 6, but his invitation was unexpectedly withdrawn by party secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

The withdrawal was said to be unusual as the Youth wing had in the past been allowed to invite whomever it wanted.

PKR Youth chief Akmal Nasir has since stated that former PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had been invited to replace Azmin for the ceremony.

A statement was later signed by 21 of the 25 PKR Youth central leaders elected in the last party elections, condemning Saifuddin for triggering a “leadership crisis” by disallowing Azmin from attending.

2019: Port Dickson retreat unattended

There was a PKR leadership retreat held in Anwar’s parliamentary constituency, Port Dickson in July 2019, but Azmin and many of his loyalists were absent.

The retreat was meant for all PKR leaders. Their absence was allegedly due to a sex video said to implicate Azmin and another individual.

In June this year, a video purportedly showing Azmin in bed with a man was released to the public.

Anwar had denied any involvement in the matter, but had publicly called for Azmin to quit his Cabinet post if the video clips are proven to be genuine.

This led to 27 PKR members (23 PKR central committee members and four MPs) signing a statement rebuking Anwar for suggesting his deputy to resign over the sex video.

Among those who signed the statement were party vice-presidents Zuraida Kamaruddin, Tian Chua, Ali Biju and Dr Xavier Jayakumar.

They claimed that Anwar had undermined Azmin, and did not stand by the party deputy president.

They also called for Anwar to cease making divisive statements against Azmin. 

2018: PKR elections — a messy affair

In 2018, the party saw its first congress held as a party part of the ruling-coalition.

Observers would have expected the party to do better but somehow it got dragged into accusations of certain divisions committing election fraud, an almost similar situation to the 2010 party election.

The PKR polls stretched over nine weeks nationwide and for the first time it used an electronic voting system, which was said to be tarnished with alleged irregularities and allegations of dirty tactics, such as vote-buying and dubious voters, a scenario which may cast doubt on the integrity and capability of the party.

The Julau division poll results was one to remember, as it saw an over 2,000 per cent increase in members, on top of accusations that the tablets were “hacked” by the voting app.

Anwar, who could be considered as the reason why PKR was formed about 20 years ago, officially assumed the position of party president after winning it uncontested. Naturally, he abolished the de facto leader post that was created for him in 2007.

Most importantly, the formalities of the PKR polls and the congress serve to solidify Anwar’s legitimacy to eventually claim the promised position of prime minister of Malaysia.

2018: Azmin’s election candidates in Selangor for GE14 removed

With less than two weeks to go to GE14 Nomination Day, eight names proposed by Azmin for Selangor were rejected by then party president Dr Wan Azizah.

Azmin, who was then Selangor mentri besar, had proposed a list which included his press aide Hilman Idham, his aide Khaled Jaafar and Mohd Razlan Jalaluddin.

2014: The infamous ‘Kajang Move’

An unforgettable by-election which happened in 2014, the Kajang by-election or popularly touted as the Kajang Move was engineered to topple then Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

This by-election was meant to make way for Anwar to be the Selangor mentri besar, but instead resulted in a nine-month-long political crisis which later involved the Selangor Palace and subsequently saw Azmin being appointed as party deputy president and replacing Khalid as the State’s mentri besar.

Rafizi Ramli, who was the initiator of the by-election had insisted that the Kajang Move was not a failure, even though the by-election cost RM1.6 million in taxpayers’ money but did not end up with a mentri besar that PKR wanted.

2010: Azmin vs Zaid

In 2010, former PKR member Datuk Zaid Ibrahim demanded an immediate stop to party elections, claiming that several pro-Zaid divisions were unable to cast their votes.

That year, the deputy president’s post was contested by Zaid who was considered an outcast due to his open criticisms of the party’s former Abim member Mustaffa Kamil Ayub and Azmin, who then was said to be Anwar’s favourite.

It was also PKR’s first direct party elections, but resulted in some candidates accusing the party of vote rigging and fraud, among other complaints.

Prior to this, Zaid was defunct Pakatan Rakyat pro-tem chairman and had previously requested for the late Datuk Seri Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat to be the chairman of Pakatan Rakyat instead of Anwar or Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang (when PAS was still part of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition).

He subsequently quit the party that same year.

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