In the wake of the most recent defections by a few of PKR's prominent personalities, doomsayers are clamouring with glee to pen down epitaphs for the fledgling party. Let's not be mistaken.
On the contrary, I believe that recent events are necessary and significant milestones for both Anwar Ibrahim and PKR to decide judiciously the quantum of their struggle; for power or for truth - neither being mutually exclusive of the other nor is either one a zero-sum solution.
Someone once said that the difference between a politician and a freedom fighter is that a politician fights for power to establish his truth but a freedom fighter fights for the truth to establish his power. As is always the case in any popular movement, PKR today has plenty of both kinds, except that in PKR it appears that both groups are working towards the two to be mutually exclusive.
In the heady days of 'reformasi', freedom fighters took to the streets as the only avenue they had in order to express their anger and dissatisfaction. They were successful in making an instant impact on the 'rakyat' but the 'rakyat' was not willing to go further in the face of draconian measures of the BN regime. The door was then open for politician-wannabes who assumed that the energy of 'reformasi' can be harnessed for alternative politics.
In the teething days of PKR, without a steady and experienced hand at the helm, the extremists of both kinds in PKR had numerous fallouts resulting in a number of leaders from either groups leaving the party. But what is most obvious is that after the 1999 elections, the energy fermented by 'reformasi' had begun to dissipate because it became apparent to freedom fighters that in a political arena, it is the politicians that rule.
By the 2004 elections, PKR was just another also-ran party that had no clear political ideology beyond rhetoric and wish-lists. In the face deft moves by a well-endowed BN, it was crushed for what it had became by then an amateurish attempt at politics by a coalition of desperadoes of varying creed, some with noble intentions, some purely personal ones.
In the wake of the despondency of that defeat, Anwar Ibrahim was released. Expectations were high that his magic will revive a movement worn down by its differences. Sadly, Anwar did not emerge from prison as a Mandela because PKR was no ANC - far from it.
Anwar himself was a freedom fighter in his youth. He later turned politician, not at the behest of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, but because after establishing intrinsic power in himself as a freedom fighter, he saw the political opportunity offered by Mahathir as a broader theatre to establish his truth. The real freedom fighter in Anwar surfaced when he chose to go prison instead of politically tacking when confronted by Mahathir. The question in everyone's mind is, what is he now?
The feud between Ezam Mohd Nor and Azmin Ali, two dear comrades of Anwar, is the epitome of that tug-of-war wrenching at Anwar forcing him to decide on being one more than the other. Ezam, the freedom fighter he is, was typically naive in his political moves to the point that now it is embarrassing and self-defeating. This is not a personality clash as PKR-haters would like it to be. It is a wake-up call to Anwar and the party.
Should Anwar decide that his destiny truly lies with PKR, we will begin to see the transformation of PKR from a so-called political party it is not, to an organised and truly broad-based popular movement that transcends politics.
And only Anwar Ibrahim has that national prominence and charisma to catch the imagination of the populace. That is why PKR, in its toddling infancy, is perceived as a real threat by BN, and not the more matured fringe players like the DAP and PAS.
Until Anwar decides, Malaysians will have to put up with poor governance, mostly exemplified by weak management, corrupt enforcement, incompetent prosecution and suspect judiciary, to name but a few.