Day: April 12, 2014

[ ARTICLE ] Azmin Ali or Khalid Ibrahim ?

I am writing this article purely from the point of a political observer. This is how I look at the contest as a keen observer. This is not a DAP official stand on the leadership issues in PKR. PKR is a member of Pakatan Rakyat and an important ally just like PAS is. The DAP leadership has its views on PKR leadership. Their main interest is to see PKR remain strong to be on the same side to displace BN and UMNO.

I shall write in the most general terms hoping the message here is understood. It is hard to write on or against colleagues. There will be a second follow-up article to state the issues clearer. That will be for the benefit of people who prefer brutal candour as opposed to less robust reasoning.

If I were to have a wish list, the top question is, what kind of leadership do I want for PKR? My answer will be: since PKR is a political party not a corporate entity, or a management-centric organisation, I will want a political leader.

The aim of politics is basically that of organising efforts, material and resources to obtain political objectives of securing and retaining political power. The other overriding objective is to have a leadership with the resolve, dedication and discipline to defeat BN. That to me would require a different kind of leadership than one that is required to run a business corporation for instance.

Business leadership may one day find it more profitable to be in mainstream politics and so can decide it is of strategic importance to be in BN. But political leadership sees no profit in linking up with BN because it is driven by different values, namely to stay the course and remain true to its own political objectives.

I have a problem, with the continued promotion of business success as a qualifier for public office. Therefore while Khalid’s achievement in obtaining cash reserves for Selangor for RM3 billion is laudable, that to me isn’t a qualification for him to be a deputy president of PKR. Success in the market is not an automatic disqualifier for public service, but it is a far different undertaking with different purposes and different values.

And to suggest that government needs people experienced in business reminds me of the old feminist saying that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. In fact, business and government — while there may be skills involved that are translatable and useful as one moves from one sphere to another, are in some ways polar opposite undertakings.

The business of business is business and the goal of business is to earn a profit in the provision of goods and services. The business of government is service — well managed, one hopes, and not wasteful, but never at a profit.

As to the money, we must remember there is no such thing as government money. Governments have no money; they have only what they take from their citizens, either in taxes or by inflation and what it gives back in terms of wellbeing of the people. And if government accrues profit it can only have done so by taxing too much or eroding the value of the citizens’ income and savings — in either case doing harm, not good, to the people.

Businesses seek maximum efficiency; governments seek sufficient efficiency. Suppose we desire security of the nation. We can save a considerable amount of money by delegating our national security to mercenary armies drawn from other countries as opposed to keeping a high-cost standing army and paying them wages, thus erasing the need to maintain a perpetual and costly military infrastructure. Zahid Hamidi can always ask the human traffickers to bring in the Ghurkhas from Nepal, serve as our army to achieve maximum efficiency. State governments could close Jabatan Kebajikan offices and require that all transactions with government be conducted electronically, with no recourse to potentially sympathetic human beings. These are choices governments make reluctantly but businesses make routinely.

Politics and Business operate on different ethics. Consider the question of earned merit. In business which is very much a merit-based enterprise, one’s employment is continued so long as he or she maintains sufficient production. The productive ones continue to receive pay checks; non-productive workers are cut loose. That may seem unfair to the bleeding-hearted, but it is productivity that provides profit and insufficient productivity that drains profit and therefore survivability. Distinguish that ethic from the commitment of government to provide a safety net for those who are, quite often due to no fault of their own, non-productive members of society. How do you deal with them?

In business, the non-productive are sacked or have their employment terminated; in government, the non-productive are not treated that way.  That is because the society as a whole, believes single mothers, orphans, the mentally or physically infirm deserve sustenance and protection. Men and women whose careers are in business may also share in the value of compassion, but it flies directly in the face of a belief in maximizing profit and winning bonuses. They may say, it is nothing personal, just business.

So PKR has to decide, what kind of leader do they want? Business or political leader?

To be fair to Khalid, I do not mean by this to suggest that the corporate experience is, or should be, an impediment to elective service. It does mean, however, that candidates for public office should not hold out that expertise in business as a primary qualification for election. Yes, okay, so you’ve run a company and you’ve made money; it’ll look good in your CV. Three cheers, hip hip hooray.

But it is important to spell out how that experience translates into meaningful preparation for service in government. Granted, it may curb the temptation to be profligate, and that’s a definite plus, but government is about helping to ensure that the government’s economic policies are not inimical to others making a profit. It is not about slashing spending but about meeting society’s obligations with efficiency and accountability. For business, forests exist as a source of lumber; for society, forests exist as a source of pleasure.

Business and government are not opposites, but they are distinct; the mind-set is necessarily different; the understandings are different; the obligations are different. Whether you cheer for Khalid Ibrahim and others like him, to win or lose in this coming party election, we should demand of them a downplaying of the business credential and a focus on how they would meet the actual challenges of governance on the specific terms of public, not private, service.

The most keenly watched contest will be for the deputy president’s post. The contest will essentially be between Azmin Ali and Khalid Ibrahim. The withdrawal of Tian Chua is seen as a measure to shore up support for Saifudin Nasution.  This plan may not work.

Votes are not transferable as one would like them to be. Those who were rooting in for Tian Chua who have decided not to support Azmin, may not necessarily vote in Saifudin. Although he is the PKR’s secretary general who has the opportunity to go all over the country and who has the opportunity to cultivate support, members may want to support Azmin. In the end, I think the presence of Saifudin will not derail much of the Azmin’s juggernaut. As to the other contestants for the same post, I don’t think they carry much weightage.

SOURCE : http://sakmongkol


[NEWS] Azmin Ali: PKR members will decide their ideal leadership

PENANTI (April 12): PKR’s Azmin Ali believes the maturity of the voting members will transcend the alliances and factions forged and will vote wisely in the coming party elections.

The party deputy president incumbent said he was above factionalism and did not believe in alliances – a trend currently developing within the party as the polls date draws near.

“Because at the end of the day, members will decide their ideal leadership based on past experiences of having weathered numerous elections.

“Members will decide. It is not an alliance or a cartel that determine the future of the party. I don’t believe in factions and forming up alliances within the structure of the party,

“The future of the party will be decided by members through a direct election. I believe in the wisdom of our members. They have gone through many elections, be it general elections, state elections, by-elections, or party elections.

“I think my PKR members have matured along the process and it is not easy to be in this party as there are many challenges and tribulations,” he told a press conference during a closed door meeting with PKR leaders and members.

The Gombak MP and Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman was asked to comment on the alliance formed by incumbents PKR vice president Nurul Izzah, secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution and strategist Rafizi Ramli.

Speculations are rife that the alliance, where Nurul will defend her post, Rafizi for one of the four vice president posts and Saifuddin for the deputy president post was formed to oust Azmin and his supporters from holding key positions.

Speculations are rife that the alliance, where Nurul will defend her post, Rafizi going for one of the four vice president posts and Saifuddin for the deputy president post, was formed to oust Azmin and his supporters from holding key positions.

To this Azmin replied: “I do not see it that way. I see the nominations coming from my colleagues are with good intention. They want to offer their services and ideas, and how to strengthen the party.

“I look at it from that angle and I think each one of us have our own strengths. I want the idea of inclusivity to be strengthened in the party.”

He said that he was not part of any team and was keen on incorporating every person with no intention on placing a stamp on his alleged chosen ones which members should accept.

The 50-year-old, who has been with the party since day one in 1999 and alongside PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim since 1987, was seen as a party loyalist with unshakeable trust in the topmost leadership.

Thus, when asked if the reason he withdrew from contesting the president’s post was because Anwar and his wife, PKR president incumbent Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail threw their hats in the ring, Azmin said there was no reason to challenge them.

Admitting that it was a difficult question to answer if it came to challenging the post, he said he was comfortable working with Anwar and Wan Azizah.

“Of course Anwar is a symbol and I need him to lead the party. I was among the first in the leadership of the party who discussed with him last year and tried to convince him to take up the presidency post when it comes to the party election.

“However, I strongly objected any move to institutionalise the post of ketua umum (general leader). There was an attempt to formalise this position by putting it in the party constitution when we had the special congress last year.

“Thank God the idea was rejected. We believe the party still needs Anwar’s leadership.

“At the same time we noticed that Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) would not let him have an easy way to either participate in the Kajang by-election or take up a post in the party. They will go all out to deny his right to lead us.

“But that is not the issue. The issue here is we need his leadership and if there is anything that disallows him to hold the position then certainly Wan Azizah has the capacity to continue and lead the party,” he said.

As to his views on heading the party in a post Anwar-era, Azmin said the party should move beyond Anwar as PKR was not an Anwar-centric party.

He said the party and leadership should be responsible to provide the space and opportunity for the second generation to take over the lead in order to prepare for the next leadership.

Nevertheless, he added, it was a `big challenge’ for PKR but one that ought to be met with adequate programmes and initiatives to identify new talents that could be recruited to become part of the mainstream leadership.

Rather outspoken with no minces in his words, Azmin pointedly said though he was open to criticisms, he would not tolerate lies.

“My conscience is clear. I just want to do my job. You talk about reform … when Umno does something (wrong), you bantai (criticise) them but when PKR does wrong, you keep quiet … you cannot do that.

“My conscience will not allow me to do it. What is important is that one must not engage in character assassination and lies.

“On policy matters and programme that are in the interest of rakyat, I have to defend. For instance, recently I spoke about the water deal in Selangor.

“We promised transparency, good governance and accountability and now we agree with them (federal government) that this agreement will be subjected to the Official Secrets Act.

“I cannot keep quiet on that. If you say I am critical of Khalid (Selangor MB Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim), I accept because it is in the interest of the rakyat, not mine.

“The users need to know what was signed with the federal government,” he said when asked about his working relationship with Khalid who has also voiced his intention to challenge the deputy president post.

Azmin said he was ready to face a four-cornered fight with Khalid, Saifuddin and Batu MP Tian Chua as it was a `democratic process’ where it was time for them to show their commitment and conviction the party’s cause.

When pointed out that several blogs speculated that he would return to Umno if he lost his deputy president position, Azmin replied: “They can say many things especially during the election but I think my track record speaks for itself.

“I will continue to serve even if I am not elected in the elections.”

The PKR election is shaping up to be a heated match with several twists, turns and alleged manipulations.

While Anwar and Wan Azizah contest the top most post, a four-cornered fight was expected for the number two position while 15 leaders will slug it out to fill four vice presidents’ seats.

Nominations for these posts and 20 central committee positions will open today with polling by about 496,923 members at branch levels taking place between April 25 and May 11 before the announcement of results on May 13.

Read more:

Members, not cartels, will determine PKR’s future,

PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali, who is defending his position in the upcoming party elections, says alliances or “‘cartels” will not determine the party’s future.

Instead, the 15-year party veteran called for inclusivity and unity to strengthen PKR, saying it was paramount in facing challenges from Barisan Nasional (BN) and Umno and to emerge stronger in the next general election.

“An alliance or cartel will not determine PKR’s future. It is the members who will decide.

“Now that we are having direct elections (to choose all party leaders), I encourage them to come out to vote for who should lead the party, especially at this difficult time when there are so many charges against (party de facto leader) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“There are so many challenges before us. Penang and Selangor are both under siege by BN. We need a strong leadership to face BN and to prepare for the 14th general election,” he said at a party meeting at Yayasan Aman in Penanti, Penang, yesterday.

Azmin is looking at a tough fight to retain the No. 2 post that he won in 2010, contesting against top guns Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, and a third contender, Hulu Selangor party branch member Datuk K. Ramachandran.

It is an open secret that Azmin and Khalid do not see eye to eye.

With Saifuddin teaming up with vice-presidential hopefuls Nurul Izzah Anwar and party strategist Rafizi Ramli in an alliance, indications are that they are all out to remove Azmin from his seat.

Azmin said he did not see the challenge as an attempt to kick him out but regarded the nominations of his colleagues as a show of good intention to offer their services and new ideas.

He said it was a healthy process in a democracy, and not a personal clash between any personalities.

“If you talk about reform and democracy, then certainly this is the best time to show our commitment and conviction to the cause. I welcome my colleagues’ participation in the party elections.

“Each of us has our own strengths and ideas that can be shared and used to complement one another. I do not see that they are against me.”

Asked if he was being shunned in his campaigning, he said he had never declared who were his running mates.

“I have never declared that this is my VP (vice-president), this is my supreme council. I am open. Do not blame me.

“I did not come here to declare that you (the members) must support or accept my VP or line-up, unlike the alliance. They have declared it openly. I have not. I believe in the wisdom of the members,” he said.

“Like Sim… he was there and now he is here. I have no problems,” said Azmin, referring to Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin, who was present at the gathering with another Penang PKR leader, Machang Bubuk assemblyman Lee Khai Loon.

The local leaders had also been seen with the other group.

On whether he had become unpopular among the upper echelon of the party because of his outspokenness on various issues, he said he has been criticised for 15 years since joining PKR and his conscience was clear.

The Gombak MP and Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman said he could not keep quiet when there were matters that had an impact on the people, like the water deal signed between the Selangor government and Putrajaya.

Earlier this week, Azmin had proposed that a select committee be formed to monitor the ongoing negotiations between Selangor and Putrajaya on the takeover of water assets.

He said the Pakatan Rakyat government in Selangor had promised the people transparency, accountability and good governance and he could not accept that the water deal had been classified as confidential.

“I told Khalid that we passed the Freedom of Information Act but the government is now subjecting the water deal under the Official Secrets Act… it is a big conflict. I could not keep quiet.

“On this, yes, I criticised Khalid but I did it in the interest of the rakyat, who have every right to know what is in the deal,” he said.

“I cannot be quiet because we are talking about reform. It is against my conscience. When Umno does something wrong, we slam them but when PKR does something wrong, we keep quiet. This is not right.”

Azmin said some PR leaders have found him tough to deal with when it came to negotiating seat allocations, but said although he would fight hard to keep seats for PKR, he never went against consensus.

“If I wanted to be popular, I would have said things like ‘So you want the seat. Here, take it.’ I have to take a position and I have to pay the price.

“Anwar is the chief, so he has to play his role. He is the good cop. I am the bad cop.”

On speculation in blogs that he would rejoin Umno if he lost in the party elections, he said all sorts of talk would surface during the elections but he was confident that his track record would speak for itself.

The Anwar loyalist joined PKR in 1999 as one of the pioneering members. He was vice-president for three terms beginning 2001.

“When Reformasi took place, many of my colleagues were overseas. Anwar had told them to stay away because he did not want to have them victimised by the system. But I stayed put… I told him I needed to be here to defend the truth.

“It cannot be erased from history and record that I was detained on September 16, 1998, just four days before Anwar was picked up. They wanted me, Anwar’s longest-serving officer, to say certain things and fabricate evidence against him. I did not do that.

“Why would I go to BN and Umno now?” he said, adding that he would continue to serve PKR even if he was not re-elected.

On why he was not contesting for presidency and whether it was because both Anwar and incumbent president, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, were in the running, Azmin said he was comfortable working with either one of them.

He said PKR still needed Anwar and there was no reason for him to challenge him or his wife, Dr Wan Azizah.

“Anwar is a symbol in PKR and we need him to lead the party. I think I was the first to convince him to go for party president.

“BN will not allow him an easy way to take the party presidency… if anything prevents Anwar from leading PKR, Azizah also has the capability to lead the party,” he said, but added that there would come a time when the party had to move beyond Anwar.

Azmin said PKR was not an Anwar-centric party and it must be sensible to allow opportunity and space for its second generation of leaders to take over the helm.

He said that was the biggest challenge for PKR now, so it must ensure that there were initiatives and programmes to identify new talent in the party and recruit young professionals as members.

The younger leaders, he said, must continue to have the chance to participate in the policy-making process at all levels.

PKR is holding direct elections to choose leaders at all levels, including the top posts. The elections begin on April 25 and end on May 11. – April 12, 2014.

Hanya ahli, bukan ‘kartel’ tentukan masa depan PKR

Timbalan Presiden PKR Mohamed Azmin Ali, yang mempertahankan kedudukannya dalam pemilihan parti akan datang berkata, pakatan atau “kartel” tidak menentukan masa depan parti.

Sebaliknya beliau yang merupakan ahli parti sejak 15 tahun lalu ini mengalu-alukan sikap inklusif dan perpaduan untuk mengukuhkan PKR dan mengatakan ia adalah paling utama dalam menghadapi cabaran daripada Barisan Nasional (BN) dan Umno dengan menjadi lebih kukuh untuk pilihan raya umum akan datang.

“Satu pakatan atau kartel tidak akan menentukan masa depan PKR. Hanya ahli yang akan membuat keputusan.

“Kita akan mempunyai pilihan raya (untuk memilih semua pemimpin parti), saya menggalakkan mereka keluar mengundi siapa yang patut memimpin parti, terutamanya pada masa sukar seperti sekarang apabila terdapat banyak tuduhan terhadap (penasihat parti) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“Terdapat banyak cabaran di hadapan kita. Pulau Pinang dan Selangor kedua-duanya di bawah kepungan BN. Kita memerlukan kepimpinan yang sangat kuat untuk menghadapi BN dan sebagai persediaan untuk pilihan raya umum ke-14,” katanya kepada pemberita selepas mesyuarat parti di Yayasan Aman di Penanti, Pulau Pinang semalam.

Azmin bakal berdepan dengan persaingan sengit untuk mengekalkan jawatan nombor dua parti yang dimenanginya pada 2010, berebut jawatan dengan calon kuat iaitu Menteri Besar Selangor Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim dan Setiausaha Agung PKR Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, dan pesaing ketiga, ahli parti cawangan Hulu Selangor Datuk K. Ramachandran.

Sudah menjadi rahsia terbuka bahawa Azmin dan Khalid tidak mampu bertentang mata. Dengan kerjasama Saifuddin bersama Naib Presiden, Nurul Izzah Anwar dan pakar strategi parti Rafizi Ramli dalam satu pakatan, ia memperlihatkan tanda-tanda bahawa mereka semua mahu menyingkirkan Azmin dari kerusinya.

Azmin berkata beliau tidak melihat cabaran berkenaan sebagai satu percubaan untuk menendangnya keluar tetapi menganggap pencalonan daripada rakan lain sebagai tanda niat baik bagi menawarkan perkhidmatan dan idea baru kepada parti.

Beliau berkata ia adalah proses yang sihat dalam demokrasi, dan bukan pertembungan peribadi antara mana-mana personaliti.

“Jika anda bercakap tentang pembaharuan dan demokrasi, maka sudah tentu ini adalah masa terbaik untuk menunjukkan komitmen dan keyakinan kita mengenainya. Saya mengalu-alukan penyertaan rakan-rakan saya dalam pilihan raya parti.

“Setiap daripada kita mempunyai kekuatan dan idea-idea yang boleh dikongsi dan digunakan untuk membantu satu sama lain serta bagi melengkapkan mana-mana kekurangan yang ada. Saya tidak melihat mereka menentang saya,” katanya.

Ditanya sama ada beliau mengasingkan diri dalam kempen bagi mengekalkan kedudukannya, beliau berkata tidak pernah mengisytiharkan siapa rakan yang seiring dengannya.

“Saya tidak pernah mengisytiharkan ini adalah VP (Naib Presiden) saya, ini adalah majlis tertinggi saya. Saya terbuka. Jangan salahkan saya.

“Saya tidak datang ke sini untuk mengaku kepada anda (ahli) bahawa anda mesti menyokong menerima VP saya atau barisan, tidak seperti pakatan. Mereka menyatakan secara terbuka. Saya tidak. Saya mempercayai kebijaksanaan ahli-ahli,” katanya.

“Seperti Sim… dia berada di sana dan kini dia di sini. Saya tidak mempunyai masalah,” kata Azmin, merujuk kepada Ahli Parlimen Bayan Baru Sim Tze Tzin yang hadir pada perhimpunan itu dengan seorang lagi pemimpin PKR Pulau Pinang, Ahli  Dewan Undangan Negeri (Adun) Machang Bubuk, Lee Khai Loon. Pemimpin-pemimpin tempatan juga dilihat dengan kumpulan lain.

Mengenai sama ada beliau menjadi tidak popular di kalangan pasukan pelapis atas parti kerana keceluparan beliau mengenai pelbagai isu, beliau berkata dikritik selama 15 tahun sejak menyertai PKR dan niatnya adalah jelas.

Ahli Parlimen Gombak dan Ahli Dewan Undangan (Adun) Bukit Antarabangsa berkata, beliau tidak boleh berdiam apabila terdapat perkara yang perlu diketengahkan demi kepentingan rakyat, seperti perjanjian air yang ditandatangani antara kerajaan Selangor dan Putrajaya.

Awal minggu ini, Azmin mencadangkan satu jawatankuasa pemilih dibentuk untuk memantau rundingan berterusan antara Selangor dan Putrajaya berkenaan pengambilalihan aset air.

Beliau berkata kerajaan PR di Selangor berjanji kepada rakyat akan ketelusan, akauntabiliti dan tadbir urus yang baik dan beliau tidak dapat menerima perjanjian air diklasifikasikan sebagai sulit.

“Saya memberitahu Khalid bahawa kami meluluskan Akta Kebebasan Maklumat tetapi kerajaan kini meletakkan perjanjian air di bawah Akta Rahsia Rasmi… ia adalah satu konflik yang besar. Saya tidak dapat berdiam diri.

“Dalam perkara ini, ya, saya mengkritik Khalid tetapi saya melakukannya demi kepentingan rakyat, yang berhak untuk tahu apa yang ada dalam perjanjian itu,” katanya.

“Saya tidak boleh diam kerana kita bercakap mengenai reformasi. Ia adalah bertentangan dengan hati nurani saya. Apabila Umno melakukan kesalahan, kita kecam mereka tetapi apabila PKR melakukan sesuatu yang salah, kita diam. Ini tidak betul.”

Azmin mengakui beberapa pemimpin PR mendapati sukar berurusan dengan beliau apabila berhubung rundingan pembahagian kerusi, tetapi beliau berkata akan terus berjuang mengekalkan kerusi untuk PKR, beliau tidak pernah menentang konsensus.

“Jika saya mahu menjadi popular, saya akan berkata perkara seperti ‘Jadi, anda mahu kerusi, ambillah’. Saya perlu ada pendirian dan saya perlu membayarnya.

“Anwar adalah ketua. Jadi dia perlu memainkan peranannya. Beliau adalah polis yang baik. Saya polis yang jahat,” katanya.

Berhubung spekulasi dalam blog bahawa beliau akan menyertai semula Umno jika kalah dalam pemilihan parti, beliau berkata pelbagai ceramah muncul semasa pilihan raya tetapi beliau yakin rekod prestasinya akan “bercakap” untuk dirinya sendiri.

Beliau adalah pengikut setia Anwar yang menyertai PKR pada 1999 sebagai salah seorang pengasas parti. Beliau merupakan naib presiden selama tiga penggal semenjak 2001.

“Apabila Reformasi berlaku, ramai rakan-rakan saya di negara luar. Anwar memberitahu mereka agar menjauhkan diri kerana tidak mahu mereka menjadi mangsa sistem. Tetapi saya tidak. Saya memberitahunya saya perlu berada di sini untuk mempertahankan kebenaran.

“Ia tidak boleh dipadamkan daripada sejarah dan rekod yang saya ditahan pada 16 September 1998, hanya empat hari sebelum Anwar ditahan. Mereka mahukan saya, pegawai yang paling lama berkhidmat dengan Anwar untuk mengatakan perkara-perkara tertentu dan memalsukan bukti terhadapnya. Saya tidak berbuat demikian.

“Mengapa saya perlu ke BN dan Umno sekarang?” katanya, sambil menambah beliau akan terus berkhidmat dengan PKR walaupun tidak dipilih semula.

Mengenai mengapa beliau tidak bertanding untuk jawatan presiden dan sama ada ia adalah kerana Anwar bakal menggantikan penyandang Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail masih berkuasa, Azmin berkata beliau selesa bekerja dengan salah seorang daripada mereka.

Beliau berkata PKR masih memerlukan Anwar dan tidak ada sebab untuk beliau mencabarnya atau isterinya, Azizah.

“Anwar adalah simbol dalam PKR dan kita perlukan beliau untuk memimpin parti. Saya rasa saya adalah yang pertama meyakinkan beliau untuk menjawat jawatan presiden parti.

“BN tidak akan membenarkannya dengan mudah untuk mengambil jawatan presiden parti… jika apa-apa menghalang Anwar memimpin PKR, Azizah juga mempunyai keupayaan memimpin parti,” katanya dan menambah masanya akan tiba apabila parti perlu bergerak bukan kerana Anwar.

Azmin berkata PKR bukan “parti Anwar” dan ia mesti wajar memberi peluang dan ruang untuk pemimpin generasi kedua bersedia untuk mengambil alih tampuk pentadbiran.

Beliau berkata, adalah cabaran terbesar bagi PKR sekarang supaya ia perlu memastikan terdapat inisiatif dan program mengenal pasti bakat-bakat baru dalam parti dan merekrut profesional muda menjadi ahli.

Para pemimpin muda katanya, mesti terus diberikan peluang mengambil bahagian dalam proses membuat keputusan di semua peringkat.

PKR mengadakan pemilihan secara langsung untuk memilih pemimpin di semua peringkat, termasuk jawatan tertinggi parti. Pemilihan bermula pada 25 April dan berakhir pada 11 Mei. – 12 April, 2014.

Azmin tells why he didn’t go for president’s post

Incumbent PKR deputy president Azmin Ali said he is not contesting the party’s president post as he sees no reason to challenge either Anwar Ibrahim or his wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

Azmin said both Anwar, the party’s de facto leader and Wan Azizah, the incumbent president, are both more than capable in running the party, especially at this challenging times.

“Anwar is a symbol of the party’s struggle and we still need him to lead us,” Azmin said in an interview with several reporters in Penanti, Penang, yesterday.

“Should Anwar be banned from politics (if he fails to overturn his sodomy conviction and five-year jail term), Azizah has the capacity to continue the struggle and lead the party,” he added.

Azmin’s remark may surprise many as he is not known to be an ally of Wan Azizah, who is closer to Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim.

He was asked why he did not go for the president’s post after having served the party for over 15 years since the reformasi movement was launched in 1998 following the sacking of Anwar from his deputy prime minister’s post and his subsequent six-year jail term for corruption and sodomy.

Nevertheless, Azmin said that someday PKR will have to move beyond Anwar as the party is not “Anwar-centric”.

Both Anwar and Wan Azizah are gunning for the party’s top post, while Azmin will face three challengers for his deputy president’s post – Khalid, secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Hulu Selangor branch chief K Rama Chandram.

Azmin is facing an intense fight this time as Saifuddin has forged a ‘Our Future Together’ pact with Nurul Izzah Anwar and Rafizi Ramli, both of whom are contesting for the vice-president’s post.

Saifuddin had said the pact was to offer party members an alternative amid a bitter feud between Azmin and Khalid.

Speculation is rife that Anwar’s candidacy is due to pressure from Azmin, who had earlier wanted to challenge Wan Azizah for the top post.

But Azmin dismissed the notion, arguing he was one of the first leaders in PKR to have met Anwar as far back as last year and convinced him to contest the top seat.

“We believe the party still needs the leadership of Anwar but at the same time, Umno and BN do not allow him to have it easy,” Azmin said, when met at Yayasan Aman.

“They don’t want him to participate in the by-election in Kajang or take up any post in party. They will go all out to deny his right to lead us,” he lamented.

No defection even if he loses

Azmin was in Penang to address PKR members from the northern region, and he will be launching his campaign dubbed ‘Keadilan Raya’ on April 16 – 10 days ahead of the party’s polls which is to be held between April 26 and May 11, to be carried out in stages according to states.

A total of 496,923 out of the party’s 500,001 members are eligible to vote in this second direct party elections.

Asked if he would eventually rejoin Umno if he loses the deputy president’s post in the coming polls, Azmin retorted, “My track record speaks for itself.”

He was one of the first to be arrested under the Internal Security Act on Sept 16, 1998, four days before Anwar was arrested.

The authorities had wanted him – the longest-serving staff in Anwar’s office – to fabricate evidence against his boss, Azmin claimed.

“Certainly I didn’t do it. So why should I hop to Umno or BN now, especially when we have been very successful in strengthening the party?” he asked.

“I will continue to serve PKR even when not elected in this party election.”

But Azmin conceded that he might have stepped on some toes due to his criticisms of Khalid, especially over the recent water deal between Selangor and the federal government.

He also joked he often had to play ‘bad cop’ to balance Anwar’s ‘good cop’ image although he has to pay the price of being unpopular.

“We promised transparency, good governance and accountability and now we agree with them (federal government) that this deal will be subjected to the Official Secrets Act?” he asked.

“It is against our stand as we were the first to pass the Freedom of Information Act at the Selangor state assembly,” he noted.

“We talked about reformasi and transparency, we condemn Umno and BN for their mistakes but keep quiet when it comes to PKR?” he queried.

“It was the same with the issue of salary increase for the MB, speaker and state executive councillors in Selangor. You expect me to keep quiet? I have to speak up. That is Azmin.”

I am for inclusivity, says Azmin

Incumbent PKR deputy president Azmin Ali said he is not interested in forming a pact to ensure his victory in the party’s polls in May as he is above factionalism.

“There are concerns about forming this kind of alliance, that is why I don’t believe in it. I am above factionalism, I don’t believe in factions and forming alliances within the structure of the party,” Azmin said in an interview with several reporters in Penanti, Penang, today.

“I am for inclusivity. When I move around, I welcome any leaders or members who like to listen to us and engage with us,” he added.

Azmin cited an example of his trip to Seremban when two different alliances contesting the PKR Youth post were present at an event.

He told the host to ensure both get the opportunity to speak to members and delegates.

“I want these ideas of inclusivity to be strengthened within the party. Each one of us have our strength and we can complement each other to strengthen the party,” Azmin said.

Azmin is defending the deputy president post against incumbent secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution and Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim.

Saifuddin has forged a pact with Nurul Izzah and Rafizi Ramli, who said their alliance was to give members a choice amidst the apparent clash between Azmin and Khalid.

Azmin was in Penanti to meet with PKR members in the north. Others leaders present at his meeting were Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin and  Nibong Tebal MP Mansor Othman.

But Azmin does not see himself at loggerheads with his competitors, adding that he accepts the challenge as this shows the party practices democracy.

He said he does see the trio as having ganged up against him as he feels they have formed an alliance to offer their programmes and ideas to improve the party and contribute to the rakyat.

He is rather confident of his chances of victory although some of his supporters say that Azmin is in a ‘do or die’ situation, as he may lose the post if the trio proves to be a formidable challenge.

“I don’t see this as a fight between individuals. This is not a personal clash between any personalities but shows the intention to provide service that we want to contribute to the party and to the cause of reformasi,” the Gombak MP said.

“Whatever it is, let the members decide. Theirs is not an alliance or cartel to determine the future of this party. The ones to decide future of the party are the members,” Azmin said.

He urged all eligible members to cast their votes at their respective branches come May, and choose who should lead the party especially during this difficult time when we are facing various charges against our leaders, especially Anwar Ibrahim, he added.

“We need to prepare the party for the next line of leadership. There are so many challenges before us. We need very strong leadership to face this challenge from Umno and BN. We understand very clearly that Penang and Selangor are under siege,” he stressed.

Azmin said he believed in the wisdom of the party’s members who have gone through many elections – be it the general, state or party elections, adding he sees them have having matured through the process.