Monday, 9 Dec 2019

Tensions rise between the PKR camps of Anwar and Azmin, this time over a Youth congress

KUALA LUMPUR – Tensions have spiked again in Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) between the camp backing its president, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and that of his rival, deputy president Azmin Ali, this time involving the Youth wing.

The fight in PKR is closely followed as the party has 50 MPs, the biggest block of lawmakers in the 222-seat Malaysian Parliament, and its stability is important for the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

The latest flare-up followed bouts of tensions between the two camps, the last major one being over the June release of a gay sex video purportedly showing Datuk Seri Azmin in bed with a young man, with the clips widely believed to have been released by Mr Anwar’s camp.

In the latest tensions to hit PKR, Mr Azmin had been invited by the Youth wing to officiate at its annual congress on Dec 6.

The Economic Affairs Minister replied that he would attend.

But PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution – an ally of Mr Anwar – unexpectedly withdrew the invitation this week. This was an unusual move as the Youth wing had in the past been allowed to invite whomever it wanted.

PKR Youth chief Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir then said Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Mr Anwar’s wife and former PKR president, had been invited to replace Mr Azmin.

On Wednesday (Nov 13), a statement signed by 21 of the 25 PKR Youth central leaders elected in the last party elections, condemned Datuk Seri Saifuddin for triggering a “leadership crisis” with the move.

The statement said: “The statement by Saifuddin on Nov 12 cancelling the invitation to Azmin as the one to officiate PKR Youth National Congress mirrors how PKR is now in a leadership crisis…

“Saifuddin is sending the wrong message to the members, unless the secretary-general wants divisions and rebellion brewing in the party.”

Said Mr Azmin on Thursday (Nov 14): “I know for a fact that (Youth chief) Akmal is a weak person.

“Twenty-one of 25 of PKR Youth’s elected leaders – more than two-thirds of the exco members – challenged the leadership of PKR Youth and the secretary-general and president. I will call for a political bureau meeting real soon.”

The tensions between Mr Anwar and Mr Azmin have existed for years as both men are keen to lead PKR. With PKR now part of the ruling coalition, both men have ambitions to become Malaysia’s next prime minister after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Mr Anwar’s followers are pushing him to quickly take over from Dr Mahathir, with political chatter than the Premier might prefer to have Mr Azmin to replace him.

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