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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Time for PKR leaders to end bickering

I refer to reports on PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali’s criticism over the appointments for the party’s top line-up.
Azmin raised questions to Anwar Ibrahim on the appointment of Rafizi Ramli as the vice-president and Saifuddin Nasution as secretary-general.
Those who follow the developments in PKR and its recent elections know that the said decision was forthcoming anytime soon.
So it was made. And soon the polemics on it started, bringing to the fore and into the open the dissent from Azmin and his faction.
Political observers know that Anwar is caught between a rock and a hard place. He has to strike a balance between competing interests and the need to make a decision for the good of the party and himself.
While he is obliged to listen to the views of both warring factions, he could not simply bow to their demands. There are other considerations that he has to weigh in.
The party constitution vests in the president the authority and prerogatives to do so but which has to be exercised with wisdom, prudence and discretion.
Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail laid great emphasis on this when she called for all parties to abide by the provisions of the party’s constitution.
Despite the appearance of a truce between the two factions, the fact is obvious to all that PKR remains fractious with plenty of simmering undercurrents going on behind the scenes.
Nurul Izzah became the latest casualty or the collateral damage from the infighting.
Anwar needs to take control of the party, show decisive leadership and set clear directions. He has to begin by working on unity and building consensus among the party leaders and members.
It may necessitate him to blend the elected leaders and unelected ones into a formidable team. This will entail bringing in leaders like Rafizi who lost in the recent party elections, and those who did not contest like Saifuddin to be part of the line-up.
Azmin and Rafizi have said openly on several occasions that they could work together for the larger good of the party. Now they have to show it in terms of deeds and actions. They must show proof that they are willing and indeed able to place party interest above personal and factional interest.
There are places for both Azmin and Rafizi under Anwar’s leadership and in his government in due course. And there will be places for other party stalwarts as well.
All that is needed now is for a bit of patience, understanding and accommodation from all concerned during this challenging transitional period. The party members need to rally behind the President as he goes about strengthening the party.
Anwar responded to Azmin’s statement by advising him to follow proper party channels when voicing dissent on decisions made by the party or office bearers authorised by the constitution.
He also said that he would not review his decision on the appointments. And lastly, he advised the members to focus more on work.
Since most of the elected Central Committee members are from Azmin’s camp, it is entirely logical and reasonable for Anwar to bring in key members from the other faction. Rafizi and Saifuddin are two key party stalwarts who have done much for the party. So the choices and decisions made by Anwar are seen as manifestly justifiable under the circumstances.
Anwar has to also factor in the fact that of late, Azmin appears or is seen inclined towards Dr Mahathir Mohamad. At times the conduct and actions of Azmin and his supporters do not give complete political comfort to Anwar. He is probably wondering when it comes to the crunch, where would Azmin’s loyalty be?
Both Anwar and Azmin may not want to think too much of such a scenario or be drawn to openly address the issue. However as the main protagonist to the premiership succession plan, Anwar has to be alert to the various possible permutations and combinations to the political equation. He cannot possibly adopt a nonchalant attitude or remain oblivious to the risks and dangers. So he probably wants to make a decision which offers the best hope of uniting the party while at the same time gives him room and space to deal with the downside of any political intrigue.
Anwar knows that whatever decision he makes, it is impossible for him to please everybody. A great leader has to be firm and decisive in his leadership. At times he must be prepared to make a brave decision. And see it through the reservations or resistance he has to face from others.
Azmin now has to decide whether it is politically right and wise for him to defy the president of his party and challenge a PM-in- waiting
The fact remains that the people are sick stiff of seeing too much politics being played by the warring parties in PKR and PH. They want them to stop the bickering and infighting. And focus more on work.
A similar message has to be also sent and conveyed to the component parties of Pakatan Harapan.
PPBM has to stop its members or warlords from raising the premiership succession issue from Mahathir to Anwar as they did yesterday at their congress. They should not question or disrupt the understanding reached between them as well as the agreement between the component parties of PH on the matter.
That understanding and agreement have been endorsed in the May elections. The people expect all parties concerned to stick to it.
DAP and Amanah have been better managed and more disciplined in the conduct of their party affairs and governance. They have created less controversies and problems for the coalition.
In fact DAP often appears to have taken stands and positions which are more in sync with the sentiments and aspirations of the people on the ground. Many a time they held firm to the high moral ground on issues which touch or concern matters of principles
The people not only expect PH to work as a coalition which is united in purpose and direction but also to remain true and faithful to their principles and promises of providing a good and clean government.
As we enter 2019, it is now high time for PH to be more focused on work and be less immersed or embroiled in party politics. It is time for PH to deliver and achieve more in 2019.
Wan Haron Wan Hassan is a senior practising lawyer. -FMT

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