KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — Nearly half of PKR’s top leadership were present at a gathering held to display support for the party’s deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali here last night, amid infighting that resumed almost immediately after a brief truce for the party annual congress that started last Friday.
Next to Azmin himself, two PKR vice-presidents and several supreme council members spoke at the dinner event that organisers said was to “celebrate” the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, a 10-year economic plan conceived by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, a portfolio under Azmin.
It was initially rumoured to be a “parallel congress” to rival the main PKR congress held in Melaka over the weekend.
Among the notable speakers was PKR vice-president and former Batu MP Chua Tian Chang said the gathering was a nostalgic but firm reminder of the party’s founding principles.
The idea of justice and genuine democracy, he added, was what brought together like-minded reformists to build the party.
“When I stand up here, I feel a sense of nostalgia.
“But nostalgia alone cannot be enough. We have to look forward because reform has no full stop. All the imperfections, we must work to correct them. And we have built this party with our own sweat and tears for 20 years and this party is the hope of most Malaysians,” said Chua, also known as Tian Chua.
Held at the grand ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel here where PKR was birthed just over 20 years ago by a band of self-professed reformists comprising former Umno and civil society members, Azmin’s camp appeared to be sending a pointed message to party president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his supporters.
To Azmin and his followers, the so-called SPV 2030 dinner marks a significant moment in the party’s history where members emerge from under Anwar’s shadow to overcome the politics of individualism.
Haniza Talha, the chief of PKR’s female wing, said in her speech that genuine reformists in the party must no longer be subservient to any single politician, without mentioning names.
According to the PKR leader, such a politician has turned into the tyrant he once opposed, by refusing to accommodate differing views within the party.
“It has come to a point where he no longer wants to listen to others,” she said to loud applause.
“When that happens, you’ve become a dictator,” she added, which the dinner audience seemingly understood though no names were mentioned.
Last Saturday, Azmin and members of his faction walked out of the PKR national congress in Melaka as a protest against Anwar’s veiled attacks, which broke a truce agreed upon a day before the assembly took place.
During the president’s policy speech debates, delegates seen close to Anwar also hurled diatribes against Azmin, mostly accusing him of betrayal. Many had also called for him and his supporters to be sacked from the party.
PKR supreme council member Amirudin Shari who is also Selangor mentri besar said in his speech at the gathering that the calamity at the national congress and the abuse against Azmin and his supporters reflected blind fanaticism for a single leader.
“I did not join the party to be around blind fanatics,” he said.
“I am in the party to fight for justice, which we have done and continue to do through our policies especially in Selangor. There, we have come up with a holistic plan to help the poor, youths, all layers of society. Good policies are what we should talk about, not calling this or that person traitors or political intrigues.”
Other leaders echoed the view that Anwar’s camp is seemingly fixated on politicking.
Another PKR vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin suggested that Anwar’s faction was behind the attempts to consolidate their own base by sabotaging appointments at state level, and this was most evident in Selangor where the party has ruled for three terms.
“I am disappointed because the organisation at state level is haywire.
“All the appointments that were given to PKR were sabotaged by state leaders who want anyone seen close to me or others to be sacked. It seems that the [central leadership] doesn’t want to listen or use our experience,” she said.
Zuraida claimed these leaders were the same culprits that abused and attacked Azmin at the national congress yesterday.
Other notable PKR leaders present were former vice-president R. Sivarasa, Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar, two former Anwar loyalists Teluk Kemang MP Datuk Kamarul Baharin Abas and Khalid Jaafar, Sarawak PKR heavyweight Ali Biju, former PKR Youth deputy chief Dr Afif Bahardin and social activist Hishamuddin Rais.