Saturday, May 25, 2013

Azmin Signals Possible End to PKR Intransigence Over GE13 Results

It may be that the furore over the results of GE13 is finally being channelled into a more mature political discourse. PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, speaking at the opening of the ninth PKR national congress in Petaling Jaya, called for a bipartisan dialogue and approach to Malaysia's future.
"If we declare our intention to serve the people, to show patriotism ... then we need to seek common ground to bring political development to Malaysia," he said.
"It is our responsibility not to allow the 51-47 atmosphere lead us to a stalemate or political impasse ... unending disputes and conflict.
"I think all parties need to have the moral courage to create political dialogue and engagement across the political divide," he added.
He made clear at a later press conference that PKR continues to support the illegal 'Black 505' rallies. Nevertheless, together with PKR's announcement that it will file petitions to contest the certain election results, it may be that PKR is finally preparing to cease protesting and turn to mature governance in the role of a parliamentary opposition.
The reasons for this are doubtless typically convoluted, as always with PKR.
However, the independence of the courts as a civilised means of redress was almost certainly involved. In mature democracies, electoral losers petition the courts for redress. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim denied early on that PKR would contest the election results in court as the courts were 'corrupt'. Yet from finding Anwar not guilty during Sodomy II to entering judgments against persons and publications such as Utusan Malaysia, the courts' independence has not been in doubt.
Adding to this litany, on Friday, PKR vice-president Tian Chua, PAS member Tamrin Ghafar and Anything But Umno head Haris Ibrahim were released from police custody after less than a day when the Magistrate rejected the police's application for remand. Chua and the others were charged under the Sedition Act, apparently for calling for street protests to topple the Government.
Yet the courts that Anwar described as 'corrupt' nevertheless denied the police request for remand and freed the men. This has taken much of the force from Pakatan Rakyat's characterisation of the arrests as a 'crackdown'.
It must be noted that Azmin's capacity to make this offer on behalf of his party is somewhat dubious. He was conspicuously absent at the important, early 'Black 505' rallies, and his stature in the party has taken numerous hits of late, including the now-infamous snub of being passed over for Selangor Menteri Besar and the rising grassroots attacks on him.
There are indeed still some who want Azmin to be "punished" for the transgression of holding a media conference and accusing the PKR party leadership of "nepotism".
It must also be noted that even if Azmin is trying to be constructive in his tone and remarks, depriving Anwar of street protests is akin to depriving him of oxygen.
Nearly 90 percent of Anwar's entire political repertoire for almost fifteen years has been street protests and rallies rather than mature governance and alternative policy prescriptions. It is not clear that he is prepared to work with the Government for Malaysia's good, and if he balks, so will the rest of Keadilan.
Azmin's speech is nevertheless a hopeful sign. Whether anything comes of it will be the test of PKR's maturity on the national stage.

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