Commentary Politics

Noises coming from PKR again

The idea of being PM so consumes Anwar (left) but the wrong move by his party PKR against Zuraida could play havoc to his path to Putrajaya.

Written by Aziz Hassan

January 20, 2020.

Recollections & Reflections

TRUE to its reputation as the party in the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition as the most noisy, PKR has again been very much in the news of late, first over the succession plan for the next prime minister and the most recent, the show-cause letter to a vice-president, Zuraida Kamaruddin.

The latter, it must be said, is something many thought should have been issued some months ago.

While she has 14 days from last Friday to respond to the letter, Zuraida sounds unfazed. Although the board is expected to give her the opportunity to defend herself, for whatever reasons some of the party’s state chiefs want her to throw in the towel now.

PKR Wanita chief Haniza Mohamed Talha was quick to pounce on this, saying that the position adopted by these state leaders isn’t surprising, given that they were appointed by party president Anwar Ibrahim, someone Zuraida has been most critical of since many months ago. Also not lost on Haniza was how some of these leaders had failed to get elected in the divisional, state or national elections and had done miserably compared to Zuraida’s achievement in winning the second highest votes of the four vice-presidents.

Reactions to Zuraidi at party events suggest strong backing among grassroots members, contrary to claims by her detractors

Her detractors claimed that there were many voices among the grassroots who wanted Zuraida out, not surprisingly without any substantiation by naming the divisions that wanted this, but all press reports on reactions to Zuraida at party events indicated strong support for her.

Maybe Zuraida is unfazed because she knows that whatever the decision on her, it’s not going to be a piece of cake for the party – and especially for Anwar’s position vis-à-vis his ambition of wanting to be the next PM – because he will need the support of a majority of MPs if he is going to get past the nomination stage before his name goes to the king.

The issue that was in the news before the Zuraida story was again on the succession plan for the next PM, with the Anwar camp, with or without his consent, pushing for a May deadline, instead of the plan by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to think of a handover only after the APEC Summit Kuala Lumpur is hosting in November.

The inside story from PKR is that Anwar of course is aware of the moves made by his supporters, including an online campaign or countdown via Facebook. It would be naïve too to think that Mahathir is unaware of what’s going on, especially if he has been in contact with his trusted former political secretary Aziz Shamsuddin, who was known to some people as the aide who did a lot of covert work for Mahathir. A Special Branch kind of guy in the PM’s Office during Mahathir’s first reign as PM.

Anwar the real PM? Don’t forget the majority support required from MPs, Pahang PKR

A recent statement from Pahang PKR makes for titillating reading because it mentions Mahathir as a temporary PM and Anwar as the real one. Where the bloke got this from beats me, although it was generally agreed that Mahathir would most likely not serve the full five-year term after Pakatan had won the 14th general elections in May 2018. But Anwar the real PM when he was still serving time in Sungai Buloh Prison while the 14th GE was in progress and thus was not among those the people voted for?

I shall only quote one sentence from Wan Fauzuldin Wan Samad, the Pahang PKR communications chief, before you read more at the link provided above: “Should this temporary prime minister serve longer compared to the real prime minister wanted by the people, who is Anwar? Impossible.”

But the statement that is most logical, makes the most sense and is the correct one among the politicians has come from PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan.

Takiyuddin has reminded everyone that the Pakatan presidential council has no power to remove a sitting PM, unless he loses his majority in Parliament. Either that or the PM opts to quit. But even if this happens, there’s no running away from the majority support factor and it is here that Anwar or anyone else hoping to be PM can’t assume that the path to that chair in Putrajaya is without any obstacle.

Said Takiyuddin: “It is not for anyone to force the prime minister to step down without a vote.”

As has been written at this portal a few times before, a nomination for Anwar is only the first step but his biggest challenge would be to get the majority support of MPs and with the problems in his party, Anwar’s future is far from being certain.



About the author


Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.