Azmin’s silence speaks volumes in PKR’s ‘cold war’

Zainal Epi
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Datuk Seri Azmin Ali attend PKR’s 20th anniversary celebrations at Dataran Rantau, Negri Sembilan April 4, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

COMMENTARY, Dec 2 — Datuk Seri Azmin Ali has been silent this past month in what is widely seen to be a feud with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, presumably on who will be Pakatan Harapan’s next prime minister after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The PKR leadership fight, as can be seen in the way the top two and their cohorts have been sniping at each other publicly, may come to a head this weekend.

The PKR deputy president’s own supporters appear unable to get in touch with him and have become restless in the face of verbal attacks from the PKR president’s camp.

The nearest Azmin’s supporters have come to reaching him is in meeting vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin who is seen to be on Azmin’s side, but it did not produce the desired results nor indicate which direction they should take.

Azmin’s faction is rumoured to have planned a parallel congress in Kuala Lumpur to the party’s main meet this Saturday in Melaka.

But even if it proceeds and scores support, it may not do the faction any good. This is because the delegates may not be PKR members and the Registrar of Societies is unlikely to recognise an “unofficial” congress.

The PKR ‘Cold War’ escalated last week following the sacking of Bera division chairman Zakaria Abdul Hamid and one other seen supportive of Azmin, leading to open sparring within the youth wing.

Amid the uproar, Azmin has maintained his silence. He has neither confirmed nor denied rumours of the parallel congress.

This can be interpreted in so many ways.

But one thing that is certain is that he looks to be losing the tactical battle, based on the recent expulsion of people from Azmin’s faction in the party in a bid to curb his influence.

Momentum has been growing for Anwar to act against Azmin, but so far, Azmin and Zuraida have been spared — despite their regular absence from PKR’s central leadership council on which both sit.

It would appear the disciplinary committee is waiting to see if Azmin and his camp will show up for the official congress as well as their numbers, or hold their own elsewhere, or perhaps make a different move.

If Azmin misses the official congress this time, it would be seen as an obvious slight and that he has chosen to part ways with his “mentor” Anwar, whose reformasi ideals he had championed since the 1990s before Keadilan was registered as a political party.

Anwar appears to be biding his time. He may be waiting for his party deputy to attend the official congress and offer an apology so that he can magnanimously forgive Azmin despite their party’s misgivings or whatever other perception others have.

Azmin’s days may be numbered.

If he stays in PKR, there can only be one end for the economic affairs minister and his group — the exit.

If he leaves PKR, there is only one other party that may accept him as a member, and that is fellow PH partner Bersatu, which would create inter-party friction and jeopardise the coalition’s public perception further.

However Azmin chooses, his political future now appears bleak. Unless Dr Mahathir decides to intervene and throw Azmin a lifebelt.

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