Thursday, May 23, 2013

PKR to Delay Party Elections in the Wake of Latest In-Fighting

PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution has announced that the Opposition party will likely delay its party elections set for later this year. Officially, in Saifuddin's words, "one of the reasons behind the delay is because the party has just finished a fierce battle which was the Thirteenth General Election where a lot of energy and resources was spent."

There have been no reports of anyone believing this.
The truth of the matter is that PKR is caught up in what may charitably be described as a multi-year civil war that began long before its now-infamous 2010 party elections, continued well into and through GE13, and once again became public as party deputy president Azmin Ali held a press conference to complain that the party was a consensus-free den of nepotism.

The party elections had been scheduled for November, but PKR's leadership will discuss the matter more closely at the upcoming party congress in Petaling Jaya, assuming they can tolerate being in the same room together. This congress is of course itself the result of an unscheduled delay – last year's congress was postponed nominally for GE13, but according to reports, the inability of any of PKR's factions to work civilly together was the larger reason.

PKR perhaps need to understand that the very point of any kind of election is to determine with finality who leads. That this lesson has eluded de facto party leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for fifteen years, including his latest anti-election rallies, suggests that his family-centred party may not learn this lesson any time soon.
Party governance has not been Keadilan's strength. Not long after its founding, Azmin and party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail entered into a barely-concealed battle for dominance, which has played out through proxies for nearly a decade. The addition of Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim as Menteri Besar for Selangor – long seen as an ally of, and at times a proxy for, Wan Azizah – and Azmin's unconcealed desire for the post only made the matter more volatile.

The 2010 party elections were a tribute to Anwar's political style, as reports of bribes, vote-buying, fraudulent ballots, spontaneously-altered procedures, violence and a host of other irregularities furthered the party's schisms. In the lead-up to GE13, the battles in the party broke out into the open more frequently, impacting Selangor's governance.

As PKR limps into its ninth party congress – assuming this too is not delayed – and contemplates delaying its party elections, it is hoped that the party will realise that it is nominally a political party composed of adults, for whom adult Malaysians have voted, and act that way.
More likely, it will end in more infighting.

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