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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — Datuk Seri Azmin Ali has delivered a scathing speech here today against his boss Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, telling thousands of supporters gathered at a hotel where PKR was birthed that the party is bigger than individuals.
From the tone of his speech, made at a dinner which he had claimed would be a briefing on the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (SPV 2030), Azmin seemingly sought to depict Anwar’s camp as blind fanatics whose sole focus is political intrigues.
To him, it was his faction that has instead stayed true to PKR’s reform ideals, and the SPV 2030 was the apparent testament of his commitment to the struggle for justice, good governance and equitable economics.
These were principles that laid the party’s founding, Azmin stressed in various moments of his sharply-worded speech, and which to him, the PKR president had betrayed.
“In April 1999, I was here together with many others in this very hall to discuss what would later become the People’s Justice Party,” he said, referring to PKR.
“But 20 years, later I am called a traitor. What has happened to PKR, ladies and gentlemen?
“Yet I don’t want to claim credit because the party was built by you all... this party wasn’t built by one person, or a single family, but by Malaysians,” he added.
Azmin, conspicuously angered by the treatment he received at the party’s national congress in Melaka yesterday, accused Anwar of hypocrisy, dynastic politics, and displaying temperament similar to a dictator by refusing to accommodate views that differ from his own.
But none of Azmin’s barbs were addressed directly to Anwar. Instead, the salvos were mostly veiled and made either in indirect references to quotes attributed to the PKR president or those said by the latter’s followers.
Yet, the PKR deputy president’s derision of the Anwar faction this evening marked a new level of animosity not seen before.
In one such instance, Azmin even sought to depict himself as the bigger reformist who sacrificed just as much if not more than Anwar, pointing to his own set of experiences during the 1998 political turmoil within then ruling party Umno — sparked by the latter’s sacking as deputy prime minister then.
“Before he was jailed, I was already jailed, remember that,” Azmin shouted.
“Anwar was jailed on September 21, but I was jailed on the September 16. I was the first to be stripped, humiliated, insulted, and degraded before him. And all this sacrifice was made because I wanted to uphold what the party stands for: justice.”
What Azmin said was unprecedented. In the two decades since PKR was formed, Azmin had always willingly played second fiddle to Anwar, a loyalty that the former accused the PKR president of crossing repeatedly ever since the feud between them started.
In an incident that reflected Azmin’s long-held grudge against his party president, Azmin accused Anwar of political betrayal when he openly suggested the minister step down following a sex video allegation.
This, he suggested, indicated Anwar’s devious character and disloyalty.
“Now there’s another claim,” Azmin said referring to the latest allegation by a male party member against Anwar.
“But when [the media] asked me I said he is my party president and I will defend him to the end. We do not in any way tolerate gutter politics. And this came from a deputy president.
“But just six months ago, what did he say [when that video] implicated me? You step down.”
If anything, Azmin’s scorching criticism against Anwar will likely hamper any chance at reconciliation for the moment and is expected to widen the rift between the two factions.
The PKR president had already couched his olive branch earlier today in terms that would allow any returning dissenter the chance to portray their concession as done in the interest of Malaysians, but Azmin has not indicated in any way that he would accept a truce.
“I have displayed patience and willingness to respect the congress,” Azmin said as he recalled what had transpired on Saturday.
“But you do not know who Azmin Ali is. In his calmness, you know little of what he’s capable of.”