The latest contretemps in PKR, Pakatan Harapan’s biggest component in terms of parliamentary representation, shows up the party to poor effect.
One would think as the party whose president, Anwar Ibrahim, is heir presumptive to the post of prime minister, it would bend over backwards to demonstrate its capacity for good internal governance.
Would not that piece of good form embellish the claims of its president to the premiership of the country, especially when those claims are not universally acknowledged?
Instead, in the matter of the time-hallowed practice of getting its deputy president to officiate the joint opening of its women’s and youth’s wings at its conclave next month, PKR continues to project its incapacity for good governance.
It’s no secret that the party is cleft with factionalism, one led by Anwar and the other by Mohamed Azmin Ali.
It’s not easy to apportion responsibility for this sorry state, but one would think that Anwar would take the opportunity to demonstrate his ability to lead amidst internal divisions as an earnest of his capacity for the larger task of prime ministerial management of the national estate.
The tradition of the deputy president being given the task of officiating the joint opening of the women and youth wings is so ingrained among major political parties in Malaysia, it’s become an axiom of political science.
It seems Azmin, the PKR deputy president, will not be officiating the joint opening next month because of some snafu with respect to an invitation to him to do so that was not accepted within the deadline for acceptance.
The task has now devolved to Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail who was the president of the party from its inception in 1999 until last year when she vacated the post for husband Anwar’s uncontested assumption of the role.
The whole contretemps about Azmin being invited to open and now disinvited is being played out in the national political arena, presumably for the benefit of a public not terribly enamoured of the saga of Pakatan Harapan’s governance of the country.
One recalls deputy president Musa Hitam being allowed undisturbed to officiate the joint openings of the women and youth wings of Umno in the later part of 1986 after he had earlier that year shocked the public by resigning as deputy prime minister and deputy president of the party.
The then Umno president, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, did not do anything to derail that joint opening by a man who appeared headed for an open confrontation with the chief.
It was an example of respect for a democratic party tradition from a supremo not exactly renowned for paying such deferences.
True, Azmin has not endeared himself to the Anwar faction in PKR by coming out in support of current Pakatan Harapan head honcho Mahathir’s completion of a full five-year term as prime minister, when there is already a coalition consensus that Anwar is to take over as PM after an interim PM-ship by Mahathir.
But that is no reason to disinvite Azmin for the joint opening of the meeting of the PKR women and youth wings, the normative curtain-raiser to a party conclave.
After all, Anwar recently has been at pains to assert that competition within a party and between components of coalitions should focus on ideas rather than deteriorate into contestations for power.
In other words, let the factionalism that is endemic to democratic political parties revolve around ideas rather than power rivalries.
In short, the upmanship should be fuelled by creative thinking than be mere strife of interests.
Would the heir presumptive to the national premiership lead his party by example rather than confine himself to preachy rhetoric.
Nigel Thomas is an FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.