By Alan Ting
COMMENT Can PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim steer PKR forward and keep its members together, following a bruising party election?
Following a three-day congress, Anwar – described as a God-sent leader by his wife and party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail – is clearly facing the biggest challenge to keep the party from falling apart.
One political analyst said it was “a do-or-die” situation for the man.
Failing to patch up the disgruntlement among its members would cause more members to ditch the party, particularly after some delegates began raising the issue of a “Gang of Four” dominating the party.
Many leaders have left the party in the past but it did not pose any serious threat. However, political observers said the situation was very much different, this time around, as dissatisfaction over the party elections has rocked it to its core.
Therefore, whether Anwar can pull it through this time remains to be seen as he is facing a more severe challenge after several big names – deputy presidency candidates Zaid Ibrahim and Mustaffa Kamil Ayub – along with Youth chief candidate Badrul Hisham Shaharin, made broad accusations of irregularities in the polls.
Zaid has since resigned from the party and is in the process of forming a new party by January.
The soreness over the party election results was still evident during the congress as some delegates called for the party leadership to conduct a thorough investigation into the complaints.
Sensing the mood, Anwar promptly addressed the issue last night when he openly admitted that there were some weaknesses and that he would take action if it was proven that there was fraud in the recently-concluded party election.
Political analysts have pointed out that Wan Azizah failed to address the issue in her opening speech on Saturday, by simply diverting the issue by praising Anwar as a God-sent leader.
“It is not his loyal supporters they should be concerned about but those who are outside the party, who are not party members but supported PKR in the last general election. How can this support be granted again in the next general election?,” asked Sivamurugan Pandian, a political analyst at Universiti Sains Malaysia.
Anwar is also facing a daunting task to pacify young voters who are not happy with the way the party handled the direct elections. They played a crucial role in helping PKR win more seats in the last general election.
Apart from that, Anwar who is Opposition Leader in Parliament, is also facing the crucial issue of who, among leaders of the opposition pact of PKR-DAP-PAS, should be the prime minister, should they come to power at federal level.
PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution has said that the opposition pact had yet to address the issue and they were still working on having a clear manifesto and building on the party’s common platform.
This left some party supporters wondering whether their leaders would be chosen to lead the country, should they come to power.
“It is really a ‘do or die’ situation… Anwar is the captain who can steer the ship. We don’t know whether the captain is heading in the right direction.”
“If not, many passengers will make a U-turn and go back to the status quo,” said a supporter who refused to be identified.
He said the party leadership could not just sweep important issues under the carpet and blame the Barisan Nasional for all the challenges they faced.
“If you observe carefully in this congress, you will see that some delegates are more critical. You did not see that in the previous congress. This shows that, to a certain extent, they want some convincing answers from the top leadership. Otherwise, they will be wondering over PKR’s future,” he said. – Bernama