Comment By Joceline Tan
Tuesday October 19, 2010 (The Star)
Blue-eyed boy Azmin Ali denies he has problems with Anwar Ibrahim’s family while projecting himself as the man who can take the party to Putrajaya.
AT this point in time, it looks like Azmin Ali is on course to become the next deputy president of PKR.
Azmin had kept a rather low profile throughout the nominations stage, preferring to let his supporters speak for him.
But all that ended after he handed in his nomination papers for the post on Saturday.
He launched his campaign manifesto several hours later on a theme that has captured the imagination of many PKR people – that they can take Putrajaya and he is the one who can take them there.
It was gutsy, catchy and, well, sexy. Never mind that the party is not exactly in the best of shape but what are politicians without promises? They go together like love and marriage.
Besides, big ideas are always sexy – just like the 100-storey tower idea which the intelligentsia has criticised but which the man-in-the-street simply cannot stop talking about.
Even Azmin’s blog has taken on a new look. It has transformed from the yellow and red theme reflecting his Selangor roots to a blue masthead showing him beside an image of the dome-roofed Prime Minister’s office.
A man destined for Putrajaya – that is the message. And this is where it gets interesting.
Azmin is shown in a white, long-sleeved shirt and tie with his right hand up in the air as though acknowledging his supporters, with a confident smile on his face.
It is a replica pose of Anwar in the latter’s own blog.
It is a good thing his loyalty and devotion to Anwar is irrefutable otherwise he would be seen as trying to upstage his boss.
Azmin’s opponents have greatly under-estimated him.
He is the only one now with a defined manifesto in a contest where the personalities have overshadowed the issues.
As one of his aides pointed out, Azmin understands the importance of timing in politics.
Of his two contenders, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim seems to have peaked too early in the nominations round while Mustaffa Kamil Ayob has yet to pick up the pace.
Or to put it more bluntly, Zaid has exhausted his bullets while Mustaffa is still looking for his.
Zaid’s campaign has had more ups and downs than some of the drama series on RTM.
He came from Umno with a superstar image and he did have the goods. He was an ex-minister and an intellectual with a very persuasive style of argument.
But he seems to lack that intuitive touch that is so important in politics. He speaks his mind, he charges his way into issues and few subjects are taboo to him.
He stunned many people in the party when he openly questioned why a party that is eyeing Federal power and the premiership has a president who is not playing her real role.
Zaid will find that he is now not only fighting Azmin and Mustaffa for the post but he is fighting the powerful “Establish ment” in PKR, people who have been in the party for years, who are prepared to do as Anwar says and who do not mind a certain status quo in the party.
It will be an uphill battle for him and he may find it hard to remain in the party for long after all that has happened.
If not for anything else, the extent of support he gets will be a good indication of the segment in the party who are fed-up with the ways so many things in the party seem to revolve around Anwar.
Azmin has suffered a variety of image perceptions over the years.
He has been seen as a polarising figure, over-ambitious, manipulative and in the black books of Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
Yet, he has managed to secure support from the ex-Parti Rakyat Malaysia or PRM group, the Abim gang and even the NGO faction. It is not all unanimous but it is there.
Senator Dr Syed Husin Ali (former PRM president) had quietly backed him from early on.
A few weeks ago, Azmin met key Abim figures including the influential Dr Mat Nur Manuty for a discussion following which he was told that he had their support.
The NGO group is quite divided but a number of them have decided to go with what they see as the winning horse.
And as Azmin has often said: “If I am that ambitious, I would not have remained as vice-president for more than 10 years.”
Azmin is also anxious to dispel the idea that Wan Azizah and her daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar have personal issues with him.
“I don’t have the impression that they are against me. I have known the family for 26 years. I worked with Kak Wan for 12 years, through fair weather and storms.
“I have high respect for her. She projects soft power but is strong among the women and professionals.
“As for Nurul Izzah I don’t treat her as Anwar’s daughter but as a young professional who has been with the party from the start.
“I had a long chat with her last Friday, I told her she represents the party’s future,” said Azmin.
And he insisted that he is not “slavish” to Anwar.
“I don’t deny my personal and close relationship with Anwar, I am not going to be apologetic about it.
“We have had heated disagreements on issues but we are in the same team,” he said.
Azmin has been eyeing the No 2 post for years but he had to make way for, first, Dr Chandra Muzaffar, then Dr Syed Husin.
Each time, it was under orders from Anwar who was then pressing the buttons from imprisonment.
Azmin’s moment is about to come now that Anwar has finally given his blessing for him to go for it.