Azmin Ali played with fire, now may get burned

Zainal Epi
Economic Affairs Minister, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, speaks to reporters in the lobby of Parliament November 19, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

COMMENTARY, Nov 21 ― Datuk Seri Azmin Ali seems to be caught in a circle of fire he created; rapid changes in the political scene may just cause him to be “burned” instead of elevating his political position.

He had ignored his party, ignored the party president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to chase a “beautiful dream” when he was appointed Minister of Economic Affairs.

He was still the obedient and loyal follower of Anwar Ibrahim but he was carried away by the trust placed in him by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the cheers and praises he received from members of his own party and the public.

He distanced himself from Anwar and the party and before his plan, if indeed it was his own plan or perhaps it was one “hammered into his head” by supporters, could succeed he found himself marooned.

The sex video that allegedly featured him with former Santubong PKR Youth chief Haziq Abdullah ― which until today has yet to be proven ― shattered everything.

Party members who have been against him for allegedly trying to outdo Anwar launched a series of attacks which further undermined his standing in the party.

He cannot run to Dr Mahathir for help because the prime minister had not promised him anything apart from appointing him as a member of the Cabinet.

The latest controversy ― a meeting with Umno MPs including Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein who is rumoured to be his link man to the Umno MPs ― was “camouflaged” as a move to strengthen Dr Mahathir’s position but analysts see it as Azmin seeking help and sympathy.

If it was to strengthen Dr Mahathir’s position, then what was the threat?

Dr Mahathir does not act like he is facing any threat as he openly welcomed any action against him following Pakatan Harapan's devastating and shameful defeat in the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election.

The Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) deputy president is now in a Catch 22 position: he cannot go back to the party without apologising openly for sidelining the party and distancing himself from Anwar and he cannot join other party such as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) without being called a traitor by his own party.

Bersatu may not even accept him given the party is also facing an internal struggle as many are rushing to be on the top of the leadership line-up come the party election next year.

The scenario looks unfavourable for Azmin and the future looks uncertain, or maybe even worse.

Meanwhile, Anwar and PKR are giving him a lot of leeway; the party's political bureau decided to give him time to explain his absence from meetings as well as the meeting with Umno MPs.

With PKR's  annual general assembly just around the corner, Azmin is in a vulnerable position with probably half or more delegates likely to go after his blood.

Already the party's secretary-general sidelined him by straying away from party regulation by asking Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail to launch the wings' assemblies ― Youth and Wanita ― instead of him.

The AGM is sure to be tense and heated and Azmin will be the focus.

In short, Azmin’s future hangs on how well he can convince the delegates he is still with the party or whether the delegates accept his explanation. 

Related Articles Dr M: Umno MPs sought Azmin's advice on jumping ship Azmin praises PKR Youth leaders’ for backing him to officiate party’s youth congress PKR Youth leader tells party to sack Hilman Idham for insisting Azmin open wing’s event