Analysts see trouble ahead for PKR following Anwar Ibrahim’s decision to appoint Rafizi Ramli and some members of his camp to key party positions.
Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia told FMT he believed the party president was mistaken if he thought he was healing a rift in the party by trying to satisfy both Rafizi and deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali.
The squabbling between the two rival camps might in fact get worse, he added.
“When both factions are equally influential, it will be detrimental to the party’s internal cohesion in the long run,” he said. “I think Anwar will have a hard time subduing these squabbles as he has shown which side he prefers.”
The PKR polls last year saw a hotly contested fight for the deputy presidency between incumbent Azmin and Rafizi, who was the party’s vice-president. Azmin’s victory was seen as especially sweet because most of the other top posts were won by candidates from his camp.
Last Friday, however, Anwar chose Rafizi for one of the three vice-presidential posts that are filled by appointment.
This led to a publicly expressed complaint by Azmin. He urged Anwar to review his appointments, alleging that some of the appointees were directly involved in rigging the party polls. He didn’t mention names.
Another political analyst, Kamarul Zaman Yusoff, said while Anwar needed to appoint Rafizi and his supporters for the sake of party unity, they should not have been given the more important posts.
“Rafizi himself should have been given a less important post than that of vice-president as some sort of punishment,” he told FMT, listing the posts of strategic director, election director or a regular council member as alternatives.
“More significant is the retention of Saifuddin Nasution as the secretary-general when he was on record as publicly endorsing Rafizi during the party election at a time when he should have shown neutrality.”
Anwar has since said the appointments of Rafizi and Saifuddin will not be reviewed. He also denied he was at loggerheads with Azmin, saying he wanted to protect the interest of all PKR members and prevent factionalism.
But Kamarul said Anwar “seemed to be using his power as party president to the maximum” by appointing those linked to Rafizi.
He also said Azmin might have erred in airing his grouses through the media.
“It does not augur well for the future of PKR,” he said. “If Azmin had used the proper channel to criticise the appointments, there would have been a higher likelihood of Anwar changing his decision. But because Azmin openly criticised it, it would cause Anwar major embarrassment if he were to give in to Azmin’s demand.
“What is likely to happen is that the running of PKR as an organisation, after this, will not be that smooth, affecting its position as the strongest party in Pakatan Harapan (PH).” He added that PPBM could take over that spot.
James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute gave a similar view. He said DAP and PKR had been “checking PPBM’s dreams” of becoming the “big brother” in PH and it was now time for the two parties to worry.
He advised Azmin to play his cards right, saying he should not challenge Anwar directly for now as Anwar “controls” the bulk of PKR members. He noted that PKR members would be aware of rumours that PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad was grooming Azmin to take over as prime minister.
“Of course, Azmin’s enemies will say Anwar must move fast since Azmin is being groomed by Mahathir,” he said.
“The truth is somewhere in between. I don’t think Azmin is being played by Mahathir but there is no doubt that he thinks Azmin is highly capable, and giving him wide powers under the economic affairs ministry is a sure sign of this.”
Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said the prime minister had “successfully divided and conquered his erstwhile rivals”, Anwar and Azmin.
Awang Azman Awang Pawi of Universiti Malaya said he believed Anwar gave Rafizi the vice-presidential job to ensure checks against PKR’s domination by any one camp.
He speculated that there was a fear among people in Azmin’s camp that they would lose the positions Mahathir had given them if Anwar were to take over as prime minister, especially “now that they have been constantly criticising Anwar”.
He questioned whether Mahathir would step down in two years as he had promised. He also alleged that some members of Mahathir’s circles wanted Azmin as prime minister instead.
“In about one or two months from now, if there is no peace between Azmin’s and Anwar’s camps, it is expected that Azmin will bring his supporters to PPBM,” he said.
“The open fights initiated by Azmin against Anwar, if not resolved, will lead to the party being divided. Azmin surely has weighed in on this and his next move too.”
Source : FMT