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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Wan Azizah: No need for special post for Anwar

Dinesweri Pupanadan, Malaysia Chronicle

UPDATED PKR president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail politely turned down a suggestion by the women's wing to amend the party constitution and formalize a special position for her husband Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is also the PKR de-facto head.

"I respect the suggestion presented by Wanita chief but at the moment, there is no need to reserve this post for Anwar," Azizah told a press conference held on the sidelines of the PKR's 7th National Congress.

The proposal for an unchallengeable post, which came from Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin, had surprised many in the party who worried it might spark negative comments of nepotism and elitist rights.

Although PKR was formed for the purpose of obtaining justice for Anwar, when he was sacked by fromer premier Mahathir Mohamad on trumped up sodomy and graft charges in 1998, the party has since grown into one of the largest opposition movements in the country.

A people's party although it was founded in special circumstances

According to Azizah, PKR was a people's party and would remain so. It was for this reason that she and Anwar made the decision last year to change the PKR constitution and allow all members to vote for the leaders they wanted.

In her policy address earlier in the morning, she defended the decision to hold direct one-member one-vote elections although it had attracted a slew of negative backlash from Prime Minister Najib Razak's Umno-BN coalition and its agents.

Secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution, also present at the press conference, denied that PKR was Anwar-centered although he admitted the charismatic leader and democracy icon was the opposition's star attraction.

Many renegade PKR leaders, including Zaid Ibrahim who quit recently, have also accused PKR of having no political agenda other than to help Anwar fight off manifestly fabricated sodomy charges pressed against him by Najib in a bid to limit his political power.

"We not only fight for Anwar but also for Beng Hock and Aminulrasyid. We proved those people wrong when we survived all the difficult times. If we only fight for Anwar, PKR's doomsday would be on the day when Anwar was released. In 2008, we defeated BN from sitting comfortably with their two-thirds majority by sweeping away 1.5 million solid votes.This proves that we are becoming stronger and we are a threat to BN," said Saifuddin.

Saifuddin pointed out a recent example whereby due to PKR lobbying, the Najib administration was forced to implement minimum wages and unveil a fairer economic distribution plan.

"Najib's decision on NEM which is yet to be implemented and the minimum wages call are due to our pressure from the opposition," said Saifuddin.

Malicious intentions

Saifuddin also dismissed the small protest group led by sacked deputy secretary-general P Jenapala which had tried to create a commotion to embarrass Anwar at the Congress this morning.

Jenapala had alleged massive election fraud. But according to Saifuddin, out of PKR's 218 branches, only 9 encountered some problems.

"That number does not even represent 5 percent. I hope that people look at the bigger picture. Please be notified that we handle every complain. Even complains from Kota Raja are being processed. Its just a matter of time," said Saifuddin, adding that all the remaining complains will processed within another 2 weeks.

He slammed some of the mainstream media for focusing on the small group of complainants, rather than praise the overall success of PKR's direct polls.

"They do not focus on the crowd today in the Congress. Instead, they turn their cameras onto the small group of people protesting outside. Even in the President's speech, they do not highlight the plans that she proposed but zoom in on the points that she bashed the BN," he said.

Meanwhile, Wan Azizah reiterated she was confident PKR would close ranks and fight as a formidable team if snap general elections were called next year. Her confidence was echoed by Saifuddin, who also said PKR was already bracing for the worst tactics possible from the Umno-BN.

"We will explain to them our action plan which will terminate the misconceptions preached by BN about us. This is also the best approach as when coming near to general election, all the halls would be booked for BN's eleventh hour ad hoc campaigns," said Saifuddin.

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