Monday, April 21, 2014

Who Will Be PKR's New Deputy President?

While the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) number one position is seeing an unprecedented husband-wife contest, the party's number two post too is being closely watched.

All eyes are on who will be the party's number two, who will work with the president in achieving the party's mission and vision.

Looking at the candidate list for the deputy president's post where a number of heavyweights have also joined in the fray, it appears that it will be an uphill battle for incumbent Mohamed Azmin Ali to maintain his position for another term.

Mohamed Azmin, the three term vice president since 2001, won the deputy president post in 2010 after defeating Perak PKR Chairman Mustaffa Kamil Ayub.


Other than Mohamed Azmin, the other three contenders who have offered themselves for the post are party Secretary General Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim and Hulu Selangor division member Datuk K. Ramachandran.

In fact it would have been a more crowded field if another contender party vice president Tian Chua and former Puchong division chief S. Murali had not withdrawn from the race. Chua and Murali announced on Thursday, the last day for candidates to withdraw, that they are withdrawing from the race.

At the crosshairs of politial pundits and observers are Abdul Khalid and Saifuddin who are seen as the formidable opponents for Mohamed Azmin.

Local political blogs seem to be more preoccupied with the clash between Mohamed Azmin and Abdul Khalid, seen as a clash between political clout and credibility.

Even before the race started talks were rife that both leaders cannot see eye to eye, and this was agreed by PKR's Director for Strategy Rafizi Ramli.

"The clash between Mohamed Azmin and Abdul Khalid is an open secret...and this is something unhealthy. It does not help the people," said Rafizi in a press conference on Tuesday.


Looking at the line up, one will then ask who is the most influential of them all?

A senior lecturer in political science from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Dungun, Terengganu Che Hamdan Che Mohd Razali views Mohamed Azmin as the one being most influential compared with the other three.

Nonetheless, he said, Abdul Khalid's challenge cannot be taken lightly due to his stronghold in Selangor, and being the man largely credited for the success of the PKR-DAP-PAS pact in the state in the 13th General Election.

"Azmin is seen influenial within PKR's circles, but Khalid has made a name for himself in Selangor due to his able leadership. The others are minnows who will just split the votes," he said to Bernama.

Early this month Saifuddin teamed up with PKR's Vice President Nurul Izzah Anwar and Rafizi, but is reported to face a tough road in the race for the number two position.

Saifuddin believes his contributions to the party, even while he was the Machang member of Parliament, will be serve as his report card to be evaluated by party members.

Abdul Khalid was reported saying on Wednesday that the trio posed no serious challenge to him and he remained unperturbed.

While Mohamed Azmin, who is also the Gombak Member of Parliament had left it to the PKR members to decide on his position.

Mohamed Azmin and Saifuddin joined PKR in 1999 while Abdul Khalid came in 2007.


Looking at the fact that two deputy president contenders were party strongmen, the question remains whether Mohamed Azmin could defend his position?

A lecturer with Universiti Sains Malaysia's Social Science Department Prof Dr Ahmad Atory Hussain predicts the state assemblyman for Bukit Antarabangsa will not be able to defend his seat.

This is due to his poor performance and the problems that he created within PKR ranks, he says, adding that the fact that he has fallen out of favour with party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail further reduced Azmin's chances.

"It is a known fact that, Wan Azizah favours Khalid and this means he has better chances of winning.

"I also see that the party's defacto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is set to throw his support to Saifuddin, making it more difficult for Azmin in maintaining the status quo," he said.

Nonetheless, all contenders have their own strengths and strategies and thus it will be interesting to wait and see the outcome of the party's new line-up on May 13.

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