KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 20 — For the uninitiated, keeping track of PKR’s ongoing party election can be quite a task.
It has the longest electoral process in Malaysia. Its election dates are divided according to states over a six-week period, which kicked off on September 22 and is scheduled to end on November 10.
With an average of between 700,000 and 800,000 members, PKR is the only party where each member gets to vote and decide who they want as leaders.
What makes this election interesting is not the top post, as the PKR presidency has unofficially been won by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim — by virtue of facing no challengers for the role.
The crux of this party election lies in the contest for the deputy presidency between two bitter rivals — the incumbent, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, and his challenger Rafizi Ramli.
Both men have pledged loyalty to Anwar as PKR president and future prime minister, but somehow that has not stopped either side from publicly attacking the other and questioning its respective alliances.
Rafizi’s campaign so far has been on a platform of “reform” and picking a deputy who will ensure Anwar’s path to PM-ship is clear; while Azmin has been telling voters to pick a tried-and-tested leader for stability.
‘Money politics’ and dirty tactics
But if everyone’s loyalty is to Anwar and party, then that should mean a clean campaign, yes?
Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case.
PKR’s elections this time around have seen friends turn into enemies, and instead of a clear-cut message of what “Camp Azmin” or “Camp Rafizi” can offer, much of the party elections so far has been mired in allegations of corruption, the prevalence of “money politics” and dirty tactics.
While there have been no direct accusations so far, what is clear is that many of these claims are coming from leaders aligning themselves to Rafizi’s camp.
On Monday, Rafizi told party members that they should reject candidates who practise the culture of money politics, and that this is one of the reasons why he decided to run for the PKR deputy presidency.
He was quoted as saying that money politics was prevalent in six states where party elections have taken place so far.
“There is something that makes me go through sleepless nights. Next week (coming Saturday), you all will compete in the division level in an environment never seen before... with money strewn all over the place.
“There will be quarters who will offer between RM100,000 and RM200,000 to the divisions. There are states where voters are given RM100 for a vote.
“I’m mentioning this early so it doesn’t shock you when it happens,” he reportedly said, claiming that there are also those being promised projects in return for votes.
PKR president-elect Anwar also weighed in on the matter, saying that PKR’s election steering committee (JPP) and its disciplinary board are looking into allegations of money politics within the party now.
But here’s the thing. PKR central election committee chairman Datuk Rashid Din said that to date, there have been no actual reports lodged by any party member, and that the JPP cannot investigate something without an official complaint.
“There have been allegations, just allegations made by different people. There have been no official reports lodged so far. How do we investigate? Rafizi’s claims, I cannot keep track of them, where he has made them,” Rashid told Malay Mail when contacted.
PKR incumbent vice-president Chua Tian Chang, who is defending his post, said that the issue of “money politics” was not mentioned or brought up during Tuesday’s political bureau meeting.
“No one discussed it, no one brought it up. You make a public statement, and then you don’t report it, what can the JPP do?” Chua told Malay Mail.
The former Batu MP said that one of the initial concerns among party members was the transparency of the e-voting system, and how it had caused confusion and anger among some members.
In places like Kedah, polling in several Kedah PKR branches were postponed due to problems with the party’s new e-voting system last month.
“But I think it is slightly better now. In the beginning, the issue has always been about the lack of transparency. But we have come to decide that we should not kick up a fuss about it because the party will suffer in the end if we still complain about e-voting,” he said.
Kapar MP Datuk Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid, a Rafizi ally in the PKR election, has claimed knowledge of incidents where members were “threatened” with physical violence by unknown persons and pressured by them to not vote according to their respective “cai” lists.
“I was told they were threatened. They took away the ‘cai’ list, leaving members unable to vote according to the list in the voting area. This happened in Sabak Bernam, where Rafizi’s ‘cai’ list was taken away,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.
When asked whether he had lodged an official complaint with the JPP regarding the matter, Abdullah Sani said that “those who are aware of the matter can report to the JPP.”
The results so far
The PKR race has certainly been a heated one, filled with its fair share of drama and theatrics. But as of right now, Azmin has a slight lead over Rafizi in the race for the party’s number two post.
As of Sunday, Azmin has garnered 28,972 votes ,while Rafizi has 28,225 votes, a minor difference of 747 votes.
Rafizi has won in the states of Terengganu, Pahang, Kelantan and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan.
Azmin, on the other hand has won Penang and Johor, in addition to the first round of voting in Selangor. There will be two more rounds in Selangor, which will be crucial to determine who wins in the end as the state boasts the largest PKR membership in the country.
Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar is leading PKR’s vice-presidential candidate list, having obtained 31,599 votes so far. In second place is outgoing Wanita PKR chief Zuraida Kamaruddin with 24,650 votes.
Xavier Jayakumar is currently at third place with 19,926, while Chua is at fourth place with 19,250 votes.
Penang lawmaker Dr Afif Bahardin is leading the race for the party’s Youth Wing chief with 6,607 votes, while his rival Akmal Nasir is trailing slightly behind at 6,421 votes. For the post of deputy youth chief, Muhammad Hilman Idham is currently in the lead with 8,300 votes.
Haniza Talha currently has 11,072 votes, putting her ahead of competitor Fuziah Salleh (8,702) for the party’ Wanita chief post. For the post of deputy, Daroyah Alwi is currently in the lead with 11,120 votes, leaving Rodziah Ismail trailing behind with 7,750 votes.
PKR members in the states of Melaka and Negri Sembilan are scheduled to vote for the party’s future today, while the second round of voting in Selangor and Perlis will take place tomorrow.
The full list of the results so far in each state can be found here.