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.