Anwar, PKR shaky after Azmin’s move

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speaking during a press conference at Eastin Hotel in Petaling Jaya, March 16, 2021. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speaking during a press conference at Eastin Hotel in Petaling Jaya, March 16, 2021. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

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COMMENTARY, March 17 — PKR seems jittery and uneasy at the rate its MPs are “fleeing”, which may see its numbers dwindle from present 35 to below 30 before July if the party leadership does not respond.

The reformist party has now to “reform” itself before it suffers more damage as the dominant party in the ruling coalition, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), continues its “recruitment” exercise to strengthen its position.

PKR is now seen as the weakest link in opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH), as its agenda to reform the government and country has been derailed with the obsession of only one target: to put up its president, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, as the prime minister.

While the sole agenda now is in play, with the rest of its members and leaders focus on this, the party’s former deputy president, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali who is now a senior minister in Perikatan Nasional (PN), is moving forward to higher and bigger agenda: national-level reform of the economy and the people.

Azmin is now on a fast track building up support for PN as well as for himself in Bersatu, which he joined as a platform to continue to serve the nation as well as himself.

Anwar did not see “the blow” from Azmin coming until his trusted man, Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, left the party and several other MPs may follow in the next few months or so.

Anwar is caught off-guard by Azmin’s move, seems to be trying to do damage control, and is now seemingly grappling to find solid issues to hold the party together and stop any further exits.

PKR seems to have lost its attraction as Anwar’s chase for Putrajaya does not seem to create any more anxiety with party members, as they see this as not worthwhile with PN’s position now seen as stronger than before.

The party has not moved forward since PH took over the government in 2018 as it expected Anwar to take over, but things did not go as planned and left the party stagnant.

With Azmin’s move, which is actually a great threat to the party’s position, its leaders and members should consider bringing back Anwar’s daughter, Nurul Izah Anwar, and her close associate Rafizi Ramli into the leadership.

The party needs new and young faces with credibility to move forward in the present political turbulence that has left no party – except DAP – out of the political danger zone.

New, young faces may give the party a boost with the voters and party members bored with the same drama and actors since the 1990s that was without new narrative and new players.

Nurul Izzah is seen as a young, upcoming leader to lead PKR if given the chance, what more with the Undi 18 voters flooding the voters’ list after June.

PKR was the backbone of PH and instrumental in rallying the multi-racial support to the opposition coalition while multi-racial and Chinese-based DAP rallies Chinese votes, a partnership that worked well even till now.

But the situation is changing as Anwar’s popularity has gone down, far below two years ago, and it seems to be still dwindling as Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s PN government chips off PKR’s support.

And needless to say, Azmin’s efforts in shaking up Anwar and PKR’s position seems to be successful.

Anwar’s attempt in trying to control the damage done by Azmin, such as by offering a tie-up with Umno that is seen as enticement to hold on to its Malay members, does not seem to be going down well even with Umno grassroots, going by reactions in social media.

Given the situation, Anwar is seen as being checkmated by Azmin who seems to be on a vengeance.

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