COMMENTARY, Jan 30 — The rift in PKR between president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his deputy, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, has shown no sign of subsiding as the president’s men are going after the latter’s ally, Zuraida Kamaruddin.
PKR vice-president Zuraida might become the fall guy if Azmin does not come out to openly defend her from the party’s disciplinary committee. She may leave PKR.
Zuraida has been Azmin’s staunchest and most loyal defender during the rift, and her group have been Azmin’s primary line of defence against Anwar and his supporters’ onslaught, even calling for his expulsion.
In fact, Azmin’s strength came from Zuraida’s supporters and will remain so, unless Azmin shows any sign of abandoning Zuraida when she needs help now.
Zuraida is facing two problems for standing solidly beside Azmin and openly criticising Anwar.
Besides replying to the show-cause letter from the party, which she did yesterday, she is facing a lawsuit from PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution that may hurt her public standing, Cabinet post, and her PKR membership.
She might escape both matters if she is lucky but it does not look good at the moment, when someone could be sacrificed in order for Azmin to mend ties with Anwar.
She will have to face Saifuddin’s suit alone as Azmin and the PKR secretary-general are not the best of friends.
Her problems might not end unless she permanently leaves the party. This would hollow out Azmin’s support. Matters would also be worse if Azmin abandons her.
The way it is right now, both Azmin and Zuraida may be forced to seek a different platform to further their political cause together with their supporters. This probably would leave PKR with half its strength.
A broken PKR is not good for Anwar but he probably does not care much about this as he is confident of succeeding Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister. He could consolidate his place in PKR after that.
However, Dr Mahathir could come to Zuraida’s aid indirectly, such as saying he would retain her in the Cabinet even if PKR sacks her. She appears to be among the competent ministers.
This would tell Anwar that she is needed in the Cabinet. The PKR disciplinary committee could go easier on her.
The former Wanita PKR chief commands the support of three-quarters of the women in PKR. Her image and credibility remain intact with them despite her problems with the party.
Her fate is now in Azmin’s hands. Unless he goes to her aid, he may find himself a general without an army.