Why Umno will always be relevant

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT | Three major political parties held their assemblies over the weekend – PKR in Malacca, Umno in Kuala Lumpur and Parti Amanah in Shah Alam.

Of the three, there is no prize for guessing which one is the most troubled and problematic party. The ruckus in Malacca was a disgrace and all associated with such violent behaviour should be ashamed of themselves.

But, are they? This party is sick to the core. I don’t find the fighting and violence surprising at all. A party infested and soiled with hooligans is bound to attract characters of the same breed!

Hired goons or not, the fact remains that only a political party with a samseng (gangster) culture will attract such shady characters.

How come no professional rabble-rousers, if indeed they exist, gate-crashed the Umno and Amanah assemblies?

In Shah Alam, the Amanah assembly saw some fiery debates but many speakers raised pressing and pertinent issues. Amanah has matured a lot over the past five years. Credit is due to the party leadership.

I’m glad that Amanah president Mohamad Sabu (below) took note of a delegate’s concern of the need for a transition date for the prime minister, stating that he would raise the matter at the next Pakatan Harapan presidential council meeting.

It is clear that Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad must be told, in no uncertain terms, to stop dilly-dallying on the matter as it has serious repercussions on the Harapan government and the nation.

If Mat Sabu and his Amanah could press it hard on the grand old man to come out with a clear transition plan (which means not overstaying the two-year agreed period), that would go down on record as one of their greatest contributions to the Harapan coalition and to ‘Malaysia Baru’.

Oh yes, we did witness a surprise over the weekend. The three-day Umno general assembly was conducted in an orderly fashion without any untoward incident, unlike in the past.

Leaders and debaters were calm and collected. Perhaps, Umno has finally decided it was time to grow up. Or party leaders and members have now realised that they are not invincible nor infallible, but only human.

The right tonic for Umno?

A stint in the opposition could have been the right tonic for Umno. Having been brought down to earth in GE14, it is time for the once almighty Umno to wake up from its many decades in slumber.

This is the best time for Umno to consolidate itself and if the just-concluded party assembly is any indication, it is heading in the right direction.

This is one of the few occasions I pen my thoughts on Umno. If anyone, either those party deserters or the hardcore foes of Umno, believe that the party is finished just because it lost one general election, they need to do some real, serious re-thinking.

I don’t think Umno will ever be buried for good. That is unlikely to happen, not for many decades down the road.

The party will always be relevant because it has no dearth of diehard members and supporters. Umno politicians may desert the party from time to time but the grassroots remain.

They are proud to be Umno members and are immensely loyal to their party. To them, it is the only party they know and perhaps the only one they believe should be entrusted to hold the mantle for the nation.

Umno will always remain relevant because the Malays are a very proud race and are generally faithful and loyal to their leaders too.

Nineteen months after the party’s disastrous GE14 outing, the more than 2,000 faithful who turned up at the Umno assembly – and all buoyed up – reflect that pride and loyalty.

Boisterous welcome for Najib

Yet another clear indication is the boisterous welcome for their former president, Najib Abdul Razak, when he turned up at the assembly. That the “Bossku” fanfare is gaining momentum should also raise some eyebrows.

Those who have jumped ship or will do so in future are only a handful of politicians and their supporters, who are out for short-term personal gains.

While it is true that politics is bereft of ethical principles that govern political relationships and engagements at times, it must also be emphasised that there is also one great unifying factor among the Malays – their religion.

In this respect, I see the new Umno-PAS tie-up as a very wise, solid tactical move. It is a giant step that will further strengthen Umno as a force to be reckoned with, years down the road.

If you ask me whether Bersatu or Umno will still be relevant, say a decade or two from now, my answer is obvious.

A glance at the current Bersatu line-up does not give one much confidence, moving forward. After Mahathir and Muhyiddin Yassin, who else is worthy of mention as national Malay leaders.

Bersatu could well be just a temporary pretender to the throne.

Even within the present cabinet, I only see a bunch of Bersatu clowns who are not even adept at comedy. I can only cringe in disbelief and great discomfort every time they open their mouth saying things they thought would make people laugh.

Seriously, I think Khairy Jamaluddin (above) will do a much better job in youth and sports than that boy minister.

Cabinet veterans Mustapa Mohamed or Rafidah Aziz should immediately replace that “black shoes, jawi khat and medan dakwah” fanatic at education.

Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan will surely be better suited at entrepreneur development than the ‘flying car’ no-brainer. Mat Hasan might not have the status of a power player in Umno for now but I believe he will have his chance to be a national figure one day.

The Umno No 2 has already struck a right chord with Malaysians when he advised Umno members at the party assembly not to be race heroes.

The biggest setback for Umno today is the slew of court charges its president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and a score of other party leaders are facing.

Zahid and the others implicated in corruption and money laundering charges should be magnanimous and step aside for the sake of the party and its future.

Political leaders should ponder on these words of wisdom now and again: “No one is indispensable and the world can carry on without you, maybe in a better way.”

Zahid should. And so too, our grand old man.

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FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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'Sodomy III' will be excruciating and unbearable

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT | However PKR president Anwar Ibrahim attempts to put his house in order, including his latest “Don’t test my patience” warning to anyone who bothers to listen, his efforts are not paying off.

How else can one explain yet another sexual misconduct accusation against Anwar on the same day the PKR president met with his estranged deputy, Mohamed Azmin Ali, in what was a public display of a show of unity in the fractured party.

I’m the least surprised by the latest statutory declaration (SD) by Muhammad Yusoff Rawther, Anwar’s former research officer, where he alleged his boss had made inappropriate sexual advances towards him.

In the purported SD, also made available on the Facebook page, Yusoff claimed that he was the victim of indecent exposure, molest and a lewd proposal during the incident allegedly committed by Anwar on Oct 2, 2018, at Anwar’s residence in Segambut.

Such an allegation has been a long time coming and Malaysians should brace for more such sleazy, juicy stories involving PKR leaders. After all, gay sex videos and scandals seem to be synonymous only with PKR, are they not?

No, I wouldn’t want to mention the name of Yusoff’s highly respected and revered grandfather. The illustrious name of the late Penang consumer advocate should not be dragged into this. Let’s halt mentioning his great name out of respect, please.

It’s also interesting that Yusoff’s (photo) granduncle, Mohideen Abdul Kader, also found it necessary to explain that Yusoff has been estranged from the family since his grandfather passed away early this year.

He also questioned his grandnephew’s motive of coming out with the SD over an alleged incident that supposedly took place more than a year ago.

That is a family matter, so I would not delve on it.

What I also find quite dumb on the part of a seasoned political party like PKR is to allow Anwar’s political secretary, Farhash Wafa Salvador Rizal Mubarak, to respond immediately to Yusoff’s public allegation.

Farhash is the man in the centre of an assault case alleged by Yusoff and he should have stayed out of this episode. The PKR secretary-general or information chief would have been the more appropriate first responders, if the party felt an immediate response was necessary.

Anwar’s choice of a political secretary has to be addressed as well, given that Farhash has allegedly been involved in two cases of assault over the past few months.

Also, Farhash’s accusation that a former, disgruntled PKR member was the “mastermind” behind Yusoff’s SD does not interest me one bit.

Nay, I’m not interested in the intrigues of party politics nor the games politicians play, whether frontal or exterior. It doesn’t bother me how many masterminds are behind Yusoff. In political warfare, all kinds of tactics, dirty or above board, are part and parcel of the game.

Allegation against Anwar a serious matter


I’m more concerned about the allegation against Anwar. This is a serious matter as it implicates an incoming prime minister.

The truth must be established. The best way to get down to the bottom of it is for a police report to be lodged, so that a thorough probe can be carried out.

I believe most Malaysians would genuinely be happy for Anwar and PKR if this latest allegation is finally revealed as a smear campaign related to the party’s internal tussle.

After Sodomy I and II, in which Anwar was found guilty by the court, it would be truly unbearable for Malaysians to stomach yet another such torrid affair.

It will be intensely painful for all.

The stakes are high in the ongoing internal strife in PKR. When the fight is all about power, position and glory, long-time friends and allies will easily turn into hardcore foes.

This is what is happening in PKR today. Those who consider Anwar as a saint in the early reformasi days, now see him as a devil.

Image result for anwar azmin feud

Why? Because there is Azmin Ali, who has become their new saviour and master.

Political cadres, not just in PKR but in all parties as well, want to see leaders fight among themselves too. Only if there is turmoil in the party will they be useful and needed, and hence, be able to derive some benefits. This is a fact in party politics.

Party members and supporters down the line will hardly be needed if there is peace. Only in times of war, will those fighting for power and position be prepared to yield to requests from supporters.

If you ask the two warring factions what their leaders had spent in their campaigns up and down the country over the past year, they would probably be reluctant to reveal their accounts.

And this party is one of those whose leaders have claimed is so poor that they have to appeal for public contributions whenever an election comes around. Have generous Malaysians been hoodwinked?

Still, notwithstanding our grievances against PKR leaders and their rather stupid open warfare, let us hope that this latest allegation of sexual misconduct against Anwar is just another dirty tactic deployed in the internal protracted power strife in the party.

We do not wish to have to face yet another round of the sleaze, slander and gutter politics that PKR is tainted with.

Two previous Anwar cases, lasting over a period of 12 years, and another implicating Azmin still unresolved, are more than enough burden and shame for us to carry.

If another one is discovered to be real and factual, then I would suggest that both Anwar and Azmin go down the only honourable path – commit hara-kiri.

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FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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Chong to GPS: Explain RM101 million budget for two rural schools

Image result for chong chieng jen

PRESS STATEMENT from Chong Chieng Jen

The State Government must give Sarawakians a full explanation on how it comes up with the two ridiculously high budget for the rebuilding and upgrading of the 2 primary schools in Sarawak provided under the State Budget 2020. These 2 schools are namely: SK Ulu Segan, Bintulu and SK Maludam and Asrama Betong.

In 2018, in the name of upgrading rural schools, the State Government provided in the Budget 2019 the rebuilding of the 2 schools which will be fully funded by the State:

1.        For SK Ulu Segan, Bintulu, the State Government approved a total budget of RM53,762,500 for the whole project.  A sum of RM23,000,000 was allocated in the State Budget in 2019.  A further sum of RM15,000,000 will be allocated in the year 2020.  The remainder sum likely to be allocated in year 2021.

2.         For SK Maludam and Asrama Betong, the State Government approved a total budget of RM48,200,000 for the whole project.  A sum of RM20,700,000 was allocated in the State Budget in 2019.  A further sum of RM20,000,000 will be allocated in the year 2020.  The remainder sum likely to be allocated in year 2021.

At present, SK Ulu Segan has 270 students while SK Maludam has 347 students. 

To budget RM53.76 million for the building of a school which only has 270 students or to budget RM48.2 million for a school which only has 347 students is unbelievable and too extravagant at best.

The total budget of RM101 million can be used for the repair, upgrade and rebuild easily 12 schools of such scales, with the budget of RM8 million per school.  In other words, it is 600% over the reasonable costs of building schools.

With the same amount spent, at least another 10 dilapidated schools can be repaired and rebuilt.  However, instead of rebuilding 12 dilapidated schools, only 2 were rebuilt.

At this rate of budgeting and spending, no amount of resources and allocation will be sufficient to meet the repair of dilapidated schools.  That explains why after 55 years of BN rule, there are more than 1,000 dilapidated schools in Sarawak.  How much of the allocation had gone into the private pockets of the past leaders?

If the GPS leaders are still of the mind that the Pakatan Harapan Government will continue to let them spend the way they used to spend, they will be in for a big surprise.

While the PH Government is keen to repair and rebuild the dilapidated schools in Sarawak, the PH Government will not allow such projects to be made by GPS as their ATM Cash Withdrawal machines as was in the past.

29-11-2019

Chong Chieng Jen

Sarawak Pakatan Harapan Chairman

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Most politicians prefer to die in glory – in office

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT | A few days ago, I received this forwarded message in a chat group – ”Who the hell does he think he is? Why is he still around? Just drop dead!”

That must be an abrupt comment from a very disillusioned and angry person. His retort was in a thread discussing the lacklustre performance of a political leader.

To most of us, it would probably be difficult to tell someone “to drop dead”. We don’t wish that on anyone, not even our worst enemy.

However, such uncivil and unkind words are understandably uttered when someone is so disgusted and fed up as if forced against the wall with no way out.

On this subject of why I believe most political leaders won’t let go but choose to die in office, let me relate this true account. It was told to me by a former political secretary.

Upon reaching 70, a federal minister decided not to seek re-election as president of his party. He had also declined to contest the seat he held for three terms.

But he had a request for his party colleagues. He wanted to be appointed a senator and continued as a minister.

Wisely, the party would have none of it and moved on to choose a new president and nominated him to the federal cabinet.

This was during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first stint as prime minister and he acceded to the party’s new nomination.

“So you see”, my political secretary friend told me, “we, politicians, are unprepared to let go of our public posts and will want to remain in office until we die, if possible. Most of us dream of dying in glory in office”.

There is a lot of truth in that. This is not to say that all politicians harbour such intention but it would not be wrong to say that most politicians fall in that category.

I suppose it’s only normal for most to wish to die in glory in office rather than to leave this world a nobody (at least they think so), an unknown whom no one remembers or talks about after you are gone.

Isn’t it funny, weird even that some think people will remember them forever after their death?

Perhaps they should be told that no one remembers you or talks about you probably a week after your funeral, except for your family and loved ones. Isn’t this a fact?

Unless, of course, you are someone like Mother Teresa, Mohandas Gandhi or Nelson Mandela. With due respect, no Malaysian leader, past or present, are anywhere near the much-revered trio in recent history.

In all seriousness, I think I could easily give a talk on Mother Teresa, Gandhi or Mandela without reference material but would find great difficulty in discussing the legacies of any Malaysian leader in a public forum.

That is my honest statement, not for want of respect for any of them but Malaysian leaders, in general, are self-serving, with egos the size of the biggest dinosaur egg and easily corruptible.

Their negatives easily overshadow any of the positives they could have contributed towards the betterment of the citizenry or the development of the nation.

Image result for taib mahmud

Let’s take Sarawak governor Abdul Taib Mahmud as an example. He was chief minister of my homeland, Sarawak, for 33 long years.

What do I remember about him? On top of my list, his alleged abuse of power and the perpetuation of cronyism, and alleged corrupt dealings within his inner circle and staunch supporters.

And does anyone seriously think Taib is a leader who is prepared to leave this world an ordinary man? He will surely choose to be governor till the day the Almighty calls.

After all, there is no term limit for governors. Mark my word, Taib will be governor for as long as he lives. Here is a man who probably finds it impossible to live a single day without a public position.

I might as well share this one-liner on Mahathir too. I also think that our prime minister will want to be in office forever if he is not bound by any initial agreement within the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

For political veterans like Lim Kit Siang and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, I look at them in another dimension. I don’t think they are still in politics today because they are greedy for power and position.

Image result for lim kit siang

Lim has been in politics since his 20s. For more than half a century, he has known no other career other than politics. Even if you appoint Lim as the chairperson of a GLC with a multi-million ringgit annual income, he would not be comfortable. To Lim, without politics, life is probably not worth living.

For Razaleigh, being an MP is no big deal for him. He is now in his 10th term as Gua Musang MP, the longest Malaysian serving MP. Yes, he still chooses to sit in Parliament as a backbencher because politics is in his blood. The Kelantan prince eats, sleeps and breathes politics. Life will be empty for him without politics.

I have this message to politicians in general: Please spare us the crap that you are in politics to serve the people. All the high-sounding ideas that you want to make lives better for others and fighting for justice and reforms are nothing but hogwash.

Time to be honest with yourselves and the public. You crave for a better life yourself and you choose politics because it gives you power and position to better yourself.

If not, why are you so eager to seek re-election in every election that comes your way, ever ready to fight tooth and nail, and even to backstab and prevent your party colleagues from replacing you?

If your noble intention is really to serve the people, try to get involved in an NGO, a voluntary or charitable organisation, where it’s all about giving and expecting nothing in return.

The lifespan of a volunteer in a social movement is usually around 10 years. After that, most would have felt that they have made their due contribution to society and would have retired gracefully, making way for others.

But not for politicians. They are such “genuine, caring and generous souls” that they would insist on serving the people till the day they reach their grave.

I do have difficulty believing that politicians are real people, most times. What about you?

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FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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Ministers to award projects another U-turn by PH, says Sarawak activist

LARISSA LUMANDAN

KUCHING: A political activist here has slammed Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement that ministers are allowed to hand out projects within their own jurisdictions, calling it “morally wrong” and against Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) promise of open tenders.

Francis Paul Siah, who leads the Movement of Change for Sarawak, said the concept of open tenders is aimed at encouraging transparency in the bidding process and weeding out corruption.

“This is shocking, and more proof that Malaysians have been cheated again, as if the slew of U-turns by PH has not been enough to demoralise them and put them off,” he told FMT.

In September, Mahathir said Putrajaya would impose new conditions which would limit direct tenders to exceptional cases as part of the federal government’s plan to curb corruption in the civil service.

Francis Paul Siah.

However, he said last week that ministers are allowed to hand out projects as long as they are within their jurisdictions.

This earned him criticism from Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh, who said it could undermine PH’s pledge to eradicate corruption and create the perception of favouritism among ministers.

Siah said ministers would almost certainly award projects to family members, close friends or supporters if they were allowed to do so.

This, he said, would be a sure way to breed corruption within the Cabinet.

He also asked if Cabinet members had agreed to the matter or whether it was a unilateral decision by the prime minister.

“If so, it is appalling that none of the ministers objected to the move which they should know is wrong,” he said.

“If this move is not reversed, PH will go down in history as the government with the worst record of lies, deceptions and U-turns.”

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Keep a hawk’s eye on the lifestyle of your YBs

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH

COMMENT | When Dr Mahathir Mohamad introduced the ‘no gift’ policy – with the exception of flowers, fruits and food – throughout the cabinet and the civil service soon after Pakatan Harapan swept into power in May last year, all of us must have welcomed the refreshing change.

Wow, the new government under the old prime minister is finally serious about moving away from the corrupt ways of the previous regime.

Getting his ministers to reject expensive gifts, commonly showered upon them by those attempting to cozy up to government leaders, was a start to the ‘New Malaysia’ we envisioned and were promised, going into GE14.

Then we also witnessed two new ministers, Anthony Loke and Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, famously rejecting their mobile phone and painting gifts in full glare of the media.

Oh yes, what a great start for a new government we all pinned our hopes on! Or so we thought.

But we now know we were fooled, don’t we?

The good vibes did not last long. Our high expectations for a change to an accountable and responsible governance under Harapan came crumbling down like a ton of bricks, 18 months later.

Now, the honeymoon is over, people.

The recent statement by Mahathir that ministers have a right to give out contracts “but not in areas apart from their own” is a matter of grave concern.

I was shocked and thought that the prime minister might have been misquoted but that was not the case. Mahathir said what he said.

Let me put this in a way as we all understood it.

If ministers are allowed to award contracts, who do you think they would give the contracts to? Surely, their first choice will be those within their inner circle – family members, close friends (read cronies) and political supporters.

What happened to Harapan’s promise of open tenders in the award of government projects?

Is not the concept of open tenders aimed to encourage transparency in the bidding of contracts and to weed out corruption?

Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh was right to disagree with the prime minister when he said that “it is morally wrong for ministers to give out contracts, whether within or outside their jurisdictions”.

He said it was an affront to the principles of reform that the Pakatan Harapan government aspired to adhere to.

‘Leading moderate lives is the keyword’

In this connection, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim’s words of advice to party leaders that “they must not be bewitched by power and wealth but must lead moderate lives” has to be taken seriously.

“What is our (PKR’s) difference? Our people are the most anti-corruption, anti-extravagance and anti-bribes. But when we rule, (our) idealism begins to wane,” he added in his speech to his party cadres at a Shah Alam event over the weekend.

‘Leading moderate lives’ is the keyword. When those in power, who have nothing initially, started to lead an extravagant lifestyle they suddenly thought they deserve or need to, is when the trouble sets in.

Perhaps, the constituents, meaning you and I, should keep a hawk’s eye on the lifestyle of our lawmakers. Let them know if we feel that they are stepping or have stepped out of line.

I have known many MPs over the years and I do observe their lifestyle and their public dealings, but keeping a distance from their private lives.

As a voter in the then Stampin and now Bandar Kuching constituencies, I am happy to report that from the late minister Stephen Yong and Sim Kwang Yang, to Yong Khoon Seng, Chong Chieng Jen and now Dr Kelvin Yii (photo), all of them have led moderate lives.

I do not see the MPs building mansions in Kuching or driving around in Bentleys or hanging around classy clubs or dining regularly at five-star outlets.

On Yii, I’m even proud to say that for the past 18 months since he was elected, he has been exemplary in fulfilling his duties as the Kuching MP.

How do I know? Because I communicate with him on a regular basis and he was also gracious to keep me abreast of his work, through his statements from time to time.

Yii is only 33. My boy is 30. So he is around my son’s age and one I believe I could give counsel to from time to time.

And I have done so, even from the time before GE14 when he was just preparing for his maiden electoral outing.

I believe my young MP would remember when I repeatedly told him then: “When you become a YB, don’t be so big-headed, always remember your roots and stay humble.”

Being young and energetic does help Yii in shouldering his duties as an MP and I believe that if he stays grounded and does not stray, he has a bright political career ahead of him.

The constituents are possibly the best judge of the performance of their elected representatives, for they must have crossed paths regularly. It might be prudent for lawmakers to bear in mind that there are constituents who do keep tabs of their track record, and possibly their evolving lifestyle, too.

My final word to politicians: If you want to live the life of a high-flier and enjoy the finer trappings of life, I suggest you go into business and not be a politician.

Because, if you are one and run up a bill of RM329,000 for luxurious family holidays over a six-month period, and get sued for it in the process, then you are in deep sh*t.

Malaysian politicians do not earn that kind of money to be able to afford such extravagance. Our verdict – it could only have come from ill-gotten gains.

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FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at sirsiah@gmail.com

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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PKR should expel Azmin Ali

S THAYAPARAN

There is always the threat of tomorrow’s treachery, or next year’s treachery, or the treachery implicit in all the tomorrows beyond that.”
– Tim O’Brien, “In the Lake of the Woods”

COMMENT | The issue with Azmin Ali (above) is not his ambition or his alleged sex scandal, but that he continues to rely on support outside Harapan to destabilise PKR’s leadership. It has got so toxic that it would wrong to call Azmin Ali’s supporters enablers when “handlers” would be a better term.

If Azmin was demonstrating solidarity with his party when it came to issues affecting his party, it would not make a difference if he had a sub rosa agenda against Anwar Ibrahim. This is politics, after all. However, Azmin’s continued reliance on outsiders to ferment trouble and consolidate support is the existential threat facing PKR at this moment.

If this was merely an internal squabble, although destabilising, it would not be as toxic to Harapan as it is now. If Anwar, the party supremo, cannot keep control of his party, then he deserves to lose power. But Anwar is not only battling Azmin Ali, for he also has to contend with Azmin’s allies from Bersatu and, of course, the riff-raff from Umno/PAS.

The fact that Anwar continues to genuflect before the prime minister, someone who has shown tremendous public support for Azmin and contempt for the Harapan reform agenda, is demonstrative of how weak the Harapan political establishment is.

All the conflicting reports about what went down at Azmin’s dinner party is just another in a long line of reasons why PKR should kick out the economic affairs minister from the party. At a time when Harapan is facing numerous self-inflicted problems, the presence of Azmin is further fracturing the tenuous alliance.

Indeed, the fact that Azmin remains in PKR reminds us that party discipline is non-existent in PKR. I am not talking about dissenting views or opinions, but rather the perception – that Azmin encourages – that Anwar is not the PM-designate of this country.

How does he encourage this perception? He does so by carrying out acts that undermine the legitimacy of the handover of power to Anwar (above). He does so by thumbing his nose at the various party meetings and personalities that would ensure a cohesive response to issues affecting the rakyat.

No doubt his role as economic affairs minister gives him access and influence, which in turn cultivates relationships across the political divide, which makes it harder for Anwar to engage in the kind of politics that defines Mahathirism.

In July of this year, when Azmin agreed with Muhkriz Mahathir (below) that there was no two-year time limit to the handover of power, this was a direct attack against his comrades and the rakyat who voted for them. What he is doing by agreeing with Mahathir’s son and proxy is encouraging the narrative that whatever promises made by Harapan are open to interpretation.

Not to mention that the old maverick has, on many occasions, couched his support of Anwar taking over, with qualifiers that make it clear that he and he alone can solve the problems this country is facing. Just recently, Mahathir claimed that if people are not careful they could vote in a Hitler. This is an extremely weird thing to say, especially when Anwar is the person taking over.

Internal party politics problems that Harapan faces are mostly created by the machinations of the old maverick. These problems then become the problems of the country because the real issues this county faces are subsumed beneath the internal politics of Harapan and the machinations of the old maverick.

Meanwhile, Azmin, like Mahathir, gives “sarcastic” answers to questions posed by the press. Read the transcript of an exchange between a reporter and Azmin here.

Even the sex scandal surrounding Azmin is part of the problem. No doubt there are elements within PKR who are out to get Azmin, but this is politics and when you put a target on your back, what do you expect? Even then, Azmin could not bring himself to identify his persecutors because, to do so, would not be as damaging as allowing the rumour mill to spin into overdrive.

His comments on the issue of internal schisms within Harapan, which could cause voters’ distrust, have now morphed into the realisation that this is an inside job, after the media made a big deal about Anwar’s missing political secretary.

Azmin does have his admirers in PKR. While most PKR political operatives want to stay out of the fray between the Anwar camp and the Azmin camp, they are growing tired of this nonsense. As one MP told me recently, she is seriously considering throwing in the towel in the next election and letting someone else take her place.

The MP also bemoaned the fact that morale is low in PKR because of this fight between Anwar and Azmin, with loyalists from each side resorting to “degenerate” methods to ensure victory. However, for folks who have no dog in this fight, what makes Azmin’s conduct reprehensible is that he has aligned himself with Umno and Bersatu power brokers.

“Look Thaya, I do not want to be associated with Umno, so these frogs coming into the party is one thing, but Azmin being used by them is another. I barely want to associate with Bersatu,” she said.

This is the point. Azmin’s handlers want to encourage a sense of fatigue They want people to distrust PKR. Let’s face facts, PKR has done a lot, which makes it a target for people who believe that PKR is the weak link in the coalition.

Anwar demanded an explanation for the meeting and since there has been no credible explanation, what we can assume is that PKR and Anwar have no idea how to deal with the minister of economic affairs because they fear the repercussions of expelling him from the party.

Azmin’s continued presence in PKR only reinforces the narrative that Anwar will never be prime minister. The fact that Azmin has not changed parties could be due to several reasons. However, I think that the longer he remains in PKR, the more trouble he will cause.

This is the strategy, after all.

  • Malaysiakini

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. A retired barrister-at-law, he is one of the founding members of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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