In PKR, tussle over No 2 post but only one boss

PKR president-elect Anwar Ibrahim will be able to hold the party together, says think tank Ilham Centre. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A think tank has dismissed the notion of a split in PKR following the party polls which have seen an intense battle over the deputy presidency between incumbent Mohamed Azmin Ali and Rafizi Ramli.

Ilham Centre said no matter who won the post, Anwar Ibrahim was already assured of the presidency and would be able to hold the party together.

Its acting executive director Mohd Azlan Zainal also noted that Anwar was prime minister-in-waiting and widely expected to take over as the country’s eighth leader from Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“The only significant difference in the party’s elections this time is the focus on who will become prime minister after Mahathir,” he told FMT.

“At the moment, Anwar’s name is still mentioned the most among PKR members and the public.”

Despite the tussle between Azmin and Rafizi, Azlan said Anwar would need both men to strengthen the party and empower the government.

“Anwar’s abilities and his power of negotiation are much needed now, especially with the current Supreme Council filled with members of Azmin’s camp,” he added.

The PKR polls had been marred by allegations of money politics and glitches in the e-voting system. Re-elections were also held at several divisions in Sabah following a commotion between the supporters of Azmin and Rafizi.

However, Azlan said democracy within the party had in fact improved from the previous election in 2014 despite the clash over the deputy presidency.

Noting that the number of voters had increased this time round, he said both Azmin and Rafizi appeared to have an equal amount of support within the party. This further reduced the likelihood that PKR would split up, he said.

He also pointed out that, for the first time, party polls were being held while PKR was part of the ruling coalition.

“Leaving the party would imply that they would have to leave the government.”

Azlan said he did not believe public confidence in PKR would be negatively impacted by the infighting as internal party affairs did not affect the people.

“It will affect the party internally, but usually people tend to distance themselves from these kinds of issues.

“These issues are considered common in any political party. Only party members will take them seriously.”

Awang Azman Awang Pawi of Universiti Malaya agreed that Anwar would be the unifying factor in PKR. He said regardless of which camp emerged the victor, party members knew that they served only one “boss”.

“Neither Rafizi’s nor Azmin’s supporters will go against Anwar. They know that officially, Anwar is the party president and this means they will have to pledge their loyalty to him,” he told FMT.

Even if Rafizi lost the race for the deputy president’s post, he said, he would likely be given a party position. “He won’t be forgotten just like that.”

Awang Azman, too, said power grabs were “normal” in a party of PKR’s age, noting that the Pakatan Harapan component was 20 years old.