MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Zuraida’s road to multiple schisms


From Terence Netto

The MPs who joined Azmin Ali and Zuraida Kamaruddin in leaving PKR to enable the hastily cobbled together Perikatan Nasional to take over the reins of the federal government in late February 2020 must be contemplating anew to what end they have arrived.

It would seem they have merely exchanged the tribulations of their repressed status in multiracial PKR for the uncertainties of dhimmitude in Bersatu.

Ten MPs left the Malay-led but multiracial PKR to join Bersatu. They must have been told or were led to believe they could persuade Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin to loosen the race-based criteria for complete enlistment with the party, especially of the non-Malay cohort that followed Zuraida and Azmin.

Thursday’s news that Zuraida had quit Bersatu is confirmation that the hopes of the PKR rebels to loosen Bersatu’s race-based locus had been in vain.

That Zuraida has joined the newly created political vehicle, Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM), is the worst kept secret over the past eight months at least, when the grapevine began buzzing with news of PBM’s formation.

Lame though her denials of involvement in PBM’s genesis may have been, it was only a matter of time before Zuraida would be exposed as the party’s midwife, after news that her former close aide, Nor Hizwan Ahmad, had by December 2021 become its secretary-general.

In the period between GE13 in May 2013 and GE14 five years later, Zuraida played a major role in garnering support within PKR for deputy president Azmin.

Her efforts at canvassing support succeeded, not so much because of growing liking within the party for Azmin, then Selangor menteri besar; rather, it was due more to mounting distaste for the machinations of Rafizi Ramli, the PKR vice-president with the divisive “them versus us” attitude towards managing factions.

Actually, a coterie of party leaders, especially from among the non-Malays, were seen as gravitating towards Zuraida more than to Azmin. However, Zuraida, then Wanita PKR chief, happened to be close to Azmin, and this cohort were construed as being close to Azmin; that was not necessarily so.

That’s why not all of them joined the rebel phalanx which threw in their lot with Bersatu in late February 2020, a move that made PN the new ruling coalition in Putrajaya.

Zuraida had done a lot to build up an NGO called Pengerak Komuniti Negara (Pengerak) while she was a federal minister from PKR in the 22-month Pakatan Harapan government.

This NGO was initiated by Zuraida to enable her supporters in PKR to work around the stultifying controls of the party exerted by the autocratic Rafizi.

Pengerak grew even faster when Zuraida joined Bersatu. As housing and local government minister, she was able to garner the wherewithal to fund the NGO.

Pengerak grew to nearly 350,000 members. They were waiting to join Bersatu if only Bersatu would loosen its race-based criteria for membership.

Azmin was unwilling to be seen to abet Zuraida in gaining this objective, especially after Muhyiddin was replaced as prime minister by Umno’s Ismail Sabri Yaakob in August 2021.

Azmin, with Muhyiddin’s backing, had been eyeing the chance to be Ismail’s deputy prime minister, a post also coveted by Bersatu secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin.

In fact, Bersatu’s core constituents are opposed to the idea of Azmin as its candidate for DPM.

In the meantime, the Pengerak battalions became restive, not knowing where to belong. Several of the key players had been sacked by PKR by mid-2020, in a display of vengeance at the treachery of the phalanx that decamped for Bersatu.

Pengerak disaffection drove tensions between Zuraida and Azmin while both were ministers in the PN government. The tensions eventuated in mutual loathing between the former close allies, with Zuraida finally deciding she had to form a new political vehicle, PBM.

After months of hemming and hawing, she has just announced she is joining the multi-racial PBM.

It’s enough to make one wonder what was the point of leaving multiracial PKR in the first place.

Rafizi might have been insufferable, but was the PN company she was compelled to keep for the past 27 months, including Azmin’s, any less inhospitable? - FMT

The views expressed are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

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