PORT DICKSON, July 21 — PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim considered the party’s three-day retreat here a success notwithstanding the notable absence of his deputy, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, and several other senior leaders.
Anwar also acknowledged the internal differences in his party, but said the 120 leaders from various levels had convened to discuss how to overcome these and to close ranks.
“Every party has its problems and we acknowledge and have to deal with it, however the spirit and consensus here is that we want to move on,” Anwar told reporters at the end of their final session.
“To use the word ‘plaguing’ to say we have problems within the party I feel is very strong because these problems are minor. They’ve been exaggerated and the media cherish such sensational new.”
The Port Dickson MP then urged PKR leaders and supporters to redirect their attention from the reported rifts in the party and to focus on public issues that he said needed “more prominence”
Attendees at the retreat discussed matters such as improving discipline, annual performance reviews for the party and federal government, and streamlining outgoing communications.
The 120 leaders out of 140 meant to attend also signed a declaration of their undivided support for Anwar as president.
Aside from professing loyalty to Anwar, the attending leaders also resolved to make PKR the multiracial pillar for the country.
Anwar said the 20 who did not attend were still free to endorse the declaration after they view it.
“The significant difference now (after the retreat) is the members had the opportunity to vent their views and criticisms, and leadership must listen and respond accordingly.
“There should not be unnecessary, rancorous exchanges because the majority wants us to remain true to our ideals, the ideals of the struggle and move on to champion the rakyat’s cause,” Anwar added.
With the spotlight still firmly on the perceived friction between Anwar and his deputy, the PKR president sought to shift attention to Pakatan Harapan’s reforms and achievements since winning the general election.
The politician presented as the country’s next prime minister said that the ruling coalition needed to improve how it was informing the country of the progress that was being delivered.
Anwar also said more attention must be given to the welfare of marginalised groups notwithstanding the country’s progress in other areas.
“Critically, which is very important, we assume that we are doing all the right things therefore the leaders are held accountable for articulating and presenting their case to the people,” said Anwar.
“Our position is if you perform, you will be retained. In fact there have been suggestions to have a KPI (key performance indicator) for all our members, MP’s and ministers on how they present their cases in Parliament and so on,” he said.
Anwar also dodged questions on the health of his relationship with Azmin, which deteriorated last week after the former suggested that his deputy should resign as economic affairs minister if a sex video allegedly implicating the latter is proven to be genuine.
This caused the undercurrent of factionalism in PKR to bubble up and surface, manifesting in 23 members of the party’s central committee issuing a rare public rebuke of their president.
Today, Anwar insisted he would have no issue working with Azmin who has remain reserved in his response to the PKR president’s offered olive branch.
“The question is completely irrelevant. Azmin is the deputy president mandated after the last party elections so it’s no problem. We’re a team,” he said.
Later, PKR party secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the attending leaders were unanimous in their support for Anwar.
“We have discussed matters in an honest and open manner and the party unanimously agrees to support the president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to lead us in line with the party’s constitution,” he said.
“We will remain steadfast and vigilant in our manifesto pledge to the people and will be critical of our work,” he added.