Opinion

PKR's infighting will be the downfall of Harapan

Published:  |  Modified:

"I see a bad moon a-rising

I see trouble on the way

I see earthquakes and lightnin'

I see bad times today.”

- Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Bad Moon Rising”

COMMENT | The mistake some people make is to choose sides when it comes to the camps in PKR. This is problematic because when proxies from either camp highlight issues affecting the rakyat, the issue gets lost in a quagmire of partisan posturing.

The fight within PKR is not some great ideological divide, as some participants would have you believe. It is rather about craven political moves to secure hegemony. There is nothing radical that the winner of either camp would inject into mainstream Malay politics. This is really a game of knaves.

Someone once asked me who do I prefer, PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali or vice-president Rafizi Ramli. I said, in a perfect world, they would be working together. Both have demonstrated a remarkable ability to remain relevant and contribute to Malay politics in a way that is – unfortunately – essential in running this country. Azmin plays it close to his chest, while Rafizi puts it out there.

People forget that these two leaders managed to hold it together even though they were at odds with each other. While I may have disagreed with Azmin holding onto PAS as Selangor menteri besar far longer than he should have, the moves Rafizi made to further his agenda in PKR were just as self-defeating.

Internal squabbling

While internal party conflict is not new, what is new is the context of this fight. PKR is a Malay-led political party struggling to define itself, even more so now with Bersatu in the mix. As a political party for all Malaysians, its Malay leadership is tearing the party apart, with the aid of non-Malay loyalists.

That’s the realpolitik of it. Which is also kind of juvenile. Think back to before the elections, when PKR was in a kerfuffle because of seat allocations – “Admittedly, Azmin claiming that he had no knowledge of the candidates' list before the big reveal by Harapan bigshots was dodgy and furthered the narrative that it was amateur hour at PKR HQ, not to mention it had a whiff of mala fide. Also the tears flowing at the press conference of Rawang assemblyperson Gan Pei Nei were self-defeating as was Batu incumbent parliamentarian Tian Chua’s rejoinder to whoever to be careful."

I just want to see who emerges when the dust settles. Demonising Azmin and going all creamy on Anwar and his camp may make good copy, but the reality is, this squabbling in PKR is damaging the idea – that dream, really – that a multiracial political party can survive in Malaysia. Scratch that – the idea a multiracial political party led by Malays can survive in Malaysia.

A non-Malay political operative from PKR who has chosen – so far – to remain, above the fray (or since, as he says, nobody has really noticed that he was elected) shakes his head whenever he talks about the camps in PKR. “We were given the keys to the kingdom and we are squabbling in the courtyard,” he said.

Another political operative said that Azmin is spooked, which is why he is making overt statements in the press or through his proxies. “Look, whatever you say about the PKR elections, his camp did better, right? So why shouldn’t the spoils go to them, this sounds crass but where is the fairness?” the political operative said. “…And, Azmin's team has more influence, so this is politics, right?"

Is the press a contributing factor in this fight, a grassroots PKR activist asked me. I answered that political operatives use the press to wage their wars, and the latter is always in need of juicy copy because nobody seems interested in the real stuff...

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