SIX months ago, PKR top leaders, including No. 2 Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, thought this year’s party congress would only have to come out with resolutions to bring Pas back into the fold, or at least further their side pact in Selangor to solidify his position as menteri besar.
After all, Pas was instrumental in the opposition pact retaining the state through Malay-majority polling districts, as well as being loyal to Azmin’s leadership as he was personally endorsed by Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang. But, all things changed when Pas decided to sever ties with PKR. The matter was preceded by strong calls from Pas grassroots, and even Azmin’s diplomacy did not remedy the sting.
The problem snowballed into a headache that proved too much to bear, with hard-boiled leaders such as PKR vice-president Tian Chua said to have taken time off during the Pas muktamar by flying to the ancient city of Luang Prabang in Laos just to clear his mind. Tian Chua used to enjoy warm ties with Pas. But, he knew all hell had broken loose and any conciliatory effort was moot.
Rafizi Ramli sat on the sidelines when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad moved and led the charge. But finally, last month proved to be fruitful for Rafizi — the PKR vice-president’s salvo against Pas has returned him to the centre of attention again.
His allegations against Pas and its former deputy president Datuk Dr Nasharudin Mat Isa, coupled with belittling Hadi right after the tabling of the private member’s bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355), was more than enough to ignite the fire.
There were other reasons that led to the dissolution of the pact between Pas and PKR as outlined by Syura Council (Pas’s highest decision-making body) secretary Datuk Dr Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh last week, including going against Pas in the Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar by-elections and allegedly not being supportive of Pas’s Islamic cause. It must be noted that strained ties first began when PKR decided to stick with DAP and Parti Amanah Negara (PAN) in the Pakatan Harapan pact; a play deemed as both religiously and politically blasphemous by Pas.
“Who was the one that divided Pas to the point some members became ‘drunk’ and formed PAN? (It’s) DAP,” said Pas central committee member Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz.
Pandanus amaryllifolius, or your humble pandan, has a number of medicinal uses, and extracts from leaves have been thought to relieve fever, indigestion and flatulence.
Conversely, its namesake parliamentary constituency’s Yang Berhormat remains to be among the main factors of opposite properties; Rafizi is also said to have long drawn the ire of several top leaders in PKR, especially Azmin and party legal eagle, Latheefa Koya.
It is no secret that Rafizi is not the favourite of everyone in PKR, save for fellow vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar, secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and a few youth among the rank and file. As reported earlier, observers had suspected that Rafizi’s overtures against Pas were aimed at Azmin’s position as Selangor menteri besar.
In retaliation, we now have Latheefa and Youth leader Datuk Adam Rosly questioning the funding source of Rafizi’s non-governmental organisation, Invoke. Rafizi then provided the NGO’s financial statement, but detractors are alleging that he is keeping the financiers under wraps. And, the brouhaha was before an email thread purportedly involving Rafizi, in which he had allegedly suggested a young man embrace homosexuality, made rounds via chat groups. Suffice to say, as sensational as the claims Rafizi tends to make before an audience, so are the rebukes against him.
Rafizi is clearly embattled, with only Nurul Izzah lending a hand to cool things down.
“He (Adam) is currently on leave from PKR, so there is no need to give him too much attention,” Nurul Izzah was quoted in a report. But, her hand has not been able to cool down the fire and brimstone.
“Other than being on the watch list of Azmin, Rafizi is particularly scorned by Latheefa. She just can’t get along with him. Menyampah kot (maybe she is disgusted by him),” said a party leader from Selangor.
Latheefa’s most recent volley at Rafizi was on two proposed Pakatan Harapan logos, where the designs became the butt of jokes among Netizens.
“You have collected millions from the public and you dare come up with this awful looking design? The cheek! Putting it for people’s vote? Embarrassing!” Latheefa reportedly said on her Facebook page.
Some had responded by labelling her a “diva”, which in political speak means “condescending and overly dramatic”. But, then again, there is Rafizi.
“Rafizi is young and ambitious. From the looks of it, (efforts in raising issues and to be under the spotlight) he is trying to mould himself as a warlord.
“To say he is a ‘political diva’, there is a possibility that he is one (in the context of projected behaviour),” said communications expert Associate Professor Dr Mohd Adnan Hashim.
PKR vice-president Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin has had enough of infightings that have veered the party’s focus away from the 14th General Election.
“We should stop fighting. What kind of a perception are we giving to the public?
“Of course, differences in views should be celebrated, albeit with restraints, should things get heated. We should be receptive of criticism, make the best out of them and move on.”
Shamsul, perhaps, is speaking of the need to jolt several PKR leaders on the possibilities of a dismal performance at the polls, without Pas’s vast election machinery in rural Malay areas and coupled with the untested mettle of Dr Mahathir’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM). The worry centres on PKR having to settle for less experienced machineries to win the Malay votes.
The ramifications of previous and recent enmities and controversies are expected to be doled out tomorrow during PKR’s 12th congress scheduled to be held in Shah Alam. In the state capital, deemed to be PKR’s power seat for the second consecutive term, the party plans to rejuvenate its morale due to ebbing ties with Pas, apart from the infightings.
Sources are saying resolutions would likely be on consolidating machineries between members of the pact — DAP, PKR, PPBM and PAN — just as Barisan Nasional’s much-touted JR Plus. Fault lines, however, may still traverse into PKR’s cooperation with Dr Mahathir especially.
PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is expected to convince her party members that all will be fine despite previous grudges, although several pockets of rank and file remain adamant against a pact with Dr Mahathir.
Her deputy, Azmin, had been busy criss-crossing Europe under the banner of InvestSelangor, a campaign to attract investors to set up businesses in the crown jewel state. It is learnt that he had conveyed opinions to the PKR political bureau on Pas while overseas, although details are sketchy.
Azmin’s worry will be whether there will be enough time to repair the damage done.
Syed Umar Ariff, an avid coffee drinker, is NST’s political desk specialist writer. He also has a penchant for pointing out the obvious.