DATUK Seri Azmin Ali is settling down nicely in Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration. So too the other 10 former PKR MPs who defected along with him. All but one are now either a minister or deputy ministers in the new government. The odd one out is Batu Pahat MP Mohd Rashid Hasnon, who is already deputy speaker of the Dewan Rakyat.
The big question is (I’ll leave the bigger questions for later), what is the fate of those who were aligned to Team Azmin and are now still in PKR, in particular his non-Malay allies in the party?
We know that party vice-president Tian Chua was manhandled by a group of alleged PKR members who accused him of being a traitor to the party. He was an ally of Azmin when the former PKR deputy president was waging war with party president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Tian Chua is one of the biggest names among Azmin’s non-Malay supporters who are still in PKR.
We are hearing of calls within the party for the leadership to kick out “traitors” (regardless whether they are Malays or non-Malays), in an apparent reference to people linked to Azmin. In other words, they want a big purge.
However, another Azmin ally, Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shaari has pledged to support PH, claiming his loyalty lies with “PKR, not Azmin”.
Despite that, there are calls, especially among PKR grassroots, for a big purge for fear of Trojan horses in the party waiting for the right time to strike. Whether their fear is justified, it is for Anwar and Co to deal with.
But PKR leaders and ordinary members (but especially the leaders) who were Azmin allies — or are still perceived as that — are in a spot, to put it mildly.
Now, on to the bigger question — has Azmin abandoned them, especially the non-Malay leaders who were in his so-called cartel when he was in PKR? Considering also that all the people Azmin has taken along with him so far are Malays and bumiputera and all have been rewarded by the new government.
Gerakan’s multiracial makeup was said to have been ideal to accommodate Team Azmin, comprising members of the various communities.
A source in Azmin’s team says there are plans for a “new setting which is needing some time to work out”. This may take the form of a new multiracial party, but he would not say more.
Arguably, a multiracial party makes sense at a time when the Muhyiddin government is being criticised for being overwhelmingly Malay.
A political analyst foresees Team Mohamed Azmin Ali boosting his political fortunes and Gerakan revivified if the former PKR deputy president team joins the Chinese-dominated multiracial party.
Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia told FMT he believed the best option for team Azmin would be to join Gerakan.
“If it comes to a point of no return in PKR, then he and his team should join another multiracial party,” he said. “Gerakan is an established party. It just needs new blood to be injected into its drying veins.”
He said the only issue standing in the way was the popular view of Gerakan as a Chinese-based party.
But Azmin could change this perception by taking in leaders from all races, he added.
He said Gerakan needed leaders like Azmin for its rebranding and to regain its former glory. “When a new leader comes in, it will have a different model and the model may have popular appeal.”
“ Team Azmin should look elsewhere if his political career goes bust in PKR, and Gerakan is looking for leaders to strengthen the party.”
Gerakan quit Barisan Nasional in the wake of the coalition’s defeat in last year’s general election.
It was formed in 1968 and at its peak it ruled Penang and enjoyed strong support in Perak.
It couldn’t make inroads after losing Penang to DAP in 2008 and did not win a single seat in last year’s general election.
Dominau Lau says his party welcomes all who subscribe to the Gerakan ideology.
The party positions itself as a Bangsa Malaysia, non-communal and non-ethnic outfit. He did not want to go beyond saying that when I asked if Gerakan will accept Team Azmin from PKR.
“We will accept as long as they put the people first. If they uphold the party ideology, anyone, regardless either from the new or old government, opposition or NGOs as long as you are fighting for the people’s rights, we will support (them).
“Our priority is the rakyat must come first, this is our stance. The people want to see stability. We have to make sure our country is stable and economically sound,” he said.
Gerakan is Team Azmin’s preferred choice because of its multiracial membership which make it possible for it to accommodate Mohamed Azmin’s non-Malay supporters.