Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Azmin and Democracy Are the Big Losers in PKR's Selangor Debacle
It was a happy day for Khalid. It was an unhappy day for the former head of his exco and party deputy president Azmin Ali, and for democracy in Pakatan Rakyat. And it was a damning day for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Mere days ago, Azmin held a press conference pointedly declining to endorse Khalid and decrying "nepotism" and a lack of democracy inside PKR after Wan Azizah had sent a letter to the Sultan endorsing Khalid for the job. He was particularly perturbed that the letter had been sent without consultation of the PKR Selangor assemblymen, who traditionally vote on their choice.
After some non-committal noises from Anwar about consensus, Azmin publicly backtracked, endorsing the Sultan's right to decide on his MB and even Khalid. It is rumoured that Anwar took his wayward lieutenant to task behind closed doors.
So ironically, while Anwar is on his nationwide protest tour calling Malaysia's democracy fraudulent, his party has once again put aside democracy when it is inconvenient in order to quell the latest round of the PKR civil war.
After PKR's leadership trampled on the democratic principles they claim to honour, the most recent, tawdry Pakatan embarrassment has temporarily ended, and Selangor finally has its MB just over a week after the election.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has called this hypocrisy. He is correct.
But this has always been Anwar's way. The self-styled Voice of Democracy has for years decried Malaysia as repressive and un-democratic (invariably after he loses an election). But in party politics, he has never been terribly interested in practising what he preaches.
From the election for deputy president of Umno in 1993 where credible allegations of vote-buying were rampant and in which Tun Ghafar Baba was shoved aside for Anwar, to the infamous 2010 PKR party elections that saw more credible allegations of vote rigging and vote buying (and the subsequent protest departure of Datuk Zaid Ibrahim), Anwar has shown no interest in consensus and democracy in his political party of the day.
This time, the victim is poor Azmin, who has been Anwar's faithful aide for over two decades. Azmin has made a poor secret of his desire for Khalid's job, and given Khalid's lacklustre administration in his first term, clearly believed he would have it.
But neither Azmin's loyalty, nor Khalid's relative ineptness as MB nor the principles of democratic consensus Anwar claims to hold dear mattered when it came time to apply power politics. Khalid – often Anwar's party adversary – is now beholden to him, and Azmin looks the fool.
Do not expect this to come up at Anwar's next rally. After all, there, he will only speak of democracy.