Friend when I kick BN, foe when I kick PKR?

Posted on November 9, 2010

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Since the inception of this blog, there have been 1,547 posts.

Mostly mine.

And mostly bashing UMNO/BN for the state of the nation.

The Pakatan parties, too, when there was reason to, have never been spared.

As early as 17 days after the 12th GE, in a post entitled ‘Is this what we can expect from PKR?’, I was critical of a statement by PKR’s Khairul Annuar Ahmad Zainuddin that ‘Party-hopping is part and parcel of the democratic process’.

Both PAS and DAP, too, have had their fair share of criticism.

Sure, since late last year and, more focused, these last few months, I have been particularly critical of PKR, Anwar and Azmin.

Why?

I explained in a recent post.

“This blog has been kicking PKR and its leaders in the head, in the groin, and in the butt the last few months or so and late last year, not because I have given up on PKR, but because I think there is still hope.

Hope that PKR will reform as it needs to.

Hope that it will begin to listen to, and heed, the voices of the rakyat.

Hope that, together with its partners in Pakatan, they will collectively turn their focus on what it will take to begin the restoration of our vital institutions of state, if they reach Putrajaya, rather than individually pursuing position and power and, to that end, indulging in self-serving intrigues.

Hope that Pakatan will work swiftly to get its act together and then, working closely with the many rakyat who are today committed to bring about the changes needed in this country, bury BN at the 13th General Election” – excerpt from my post of 6th October, 2010.

If you troubled to check, you will find that I began to give closer attention to PKR around the time when the party was facing problems in Sabah over the question of its state leadership, and the seeming resistance at HQ to accept what, ostensibly at least, was strong support by the majority of divisional leaders in Sabah for Jeffrey Kitingan to lead PKR in Sabah.

Was there something amiss about Jeffrey that HQ was alerted to that the rest of us were oblivious to?

A statement around that time by then Batu Sapi division chief Nahalan Damsal, reported in Malaysiakini, got me concerned if there were reasons for PKR HQ’s rejection of Jeffrey that reflected more on Anwar and the PKR leadership then they did on Jeffrey. An excerpt from that Malaysiakini report is reproduced below.

“Nahalan, a prominent leader in the east coast, took some time to explain his position at length on why he supports any proposed new party to be headed by Jeffrey.

“I received a call from Anwar Ibrahim last week asking me why I supported Jeffrey to be PKR state chief and not Thamrin,” disclosed Nahalan who is a Bajau-Suluk.

“I told him that Jeffrey was elected by the majority of division chiefs including my division. Besides, he’s the best leader we have in the opposition. It’s not true that he’s crazy about posts or likes to switch from party to party for no reason.”

Implied, but not stated specifically by Anwar during the hour-long telephone conversation, was that Nahalan should seriously think about supporting Thamrin on the basis of their common faith.

Apparently, Anwar was busy working the phones last week trying to persuade other Muslim division chiefs as well, including KadazanDusunMurut, to withdraw their support for Jeffrey to be the new state chief.

Muslim KadazanDusunMuruts come from the Orang Sungei along the Kinabatangan, Bisaya in the west coast and Ranau Dusun tribes in the high country.

Anwar’s willingness to ride roughshod over local sentiments in Sabah was the last straw for Nahalan. He said he realised that “Anwar has not changed since his Umno and Abim (Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia) days and is very much a closet racist” .

I have alluded to that statement and a conversation I had with Anwar in relation thereto in an earlier post. The relevant excerpt is reproduced below.

“10 days later, at a ‘meet the bloggers’ session hosted by Anwar at the Lake Club, I broached Anwar on this.

He assured me that there was no truth in this and that Nahalan had in fact sms’d Anwar to say that the Malaysiakini report was completely untrue.

Anwar, of course, was not to know that I had already been told by someone who was at the meeting on 6th November, 2009, in Kota Kinabalu, where Tian Chua met several of the PKR state leaders, including Nahalan, that the latter had reiterated the very same allegation to Tian Chua.

I thought then that I would let this pass”.

Whilst I did let it pass, I still kept watch.

In June, Selangor MB Khalid lost the stewardship of PKR Selangor.

To Azmin.

It looked like a move to put Azmin in charge of the state with the largest number of members, before the first ever ‘one member, one vote’ party elections kicked off.

What could not be overlooked was that this appeared to have been engineered with the complicity of Anwar.

Then, in August, this year, PKR made a move that, to me, defied all political good sense.

Some leaders having worked to restore peace in Sabah in December last year and diffuse the crisis brought on by the rejection by HQ of Jeffrey as the state leader, a peace deal that, supposedly, also included an agreement to take no action against party members who were involved in a move then to register a new party, the party now issued notices to show cause to 12 members in Sabah who were allegedly involved in that move.

Any and every political analyst worth his salt will tell you that the parliamentary seats in Sabah and Sarawak are crucial to any party hoping to take federal power.

All things being equal, if Anwar manages to thwart the current sodomy charges and remain a free man, and Pakatan wins the 13th GE, Anwar would be PM.

Why would Anwar risk destabilising PKR in Sabah again after the delicate state of things there late last year was calmed with much diplomacy and careful negotation?

Why risk a Pakatan victory at the next GE, speculated by some to be any time soon, and his PMship, by resurrecting this issue?

When you note that the 12 were mostly, if not all, strong supporters of Jeffrey who, in turn, was seen by many in the party as having in a very short time forged good ties with Zaid, it could not altogether be discounted that the move against the 12 might be a move ultimately to check Zaid’s prospects in the ongoing elections.

Again, seemingly favouring Azmin.

If this was the reason, and no more, it would be a matter of internal politicking, to be left to  party members, leaders and rank and file to fight out.

And who’s is to say that Anwar should not be permitted to favour any one candidate and throw his weight behind that candidate, provided the contest remains free and fair?

On 13th September, I called Azmin Ali over the phone. Amongst other things, I asked him about information I keep receiving about Anwar and he being on a Muslim agenda and explained that what moved me to take a chance with Anwar, despite all the misgivings and reservations I have long felt, was when I heard Anwar say, at a ceramah in Bentong in August, 2008 : ‘”Anak Melayu, anak kita, anak Cina anak kita, anak India, pun anak kita. Mengapa harus kita bezakan?”

“Haris, I have never hidden that I am a fundamentalist. I hold to the fundamentals of Islam. However, in all the ceramahs that I speak at, I have always made it clear that the Muslim majority must look out for and protect the rights of the other communities. That is something that PKR is committed to”, Azmin clarified.

I responded.

“Isn’t this the same communal politics of BN? Isn’t this still dividing the rakyat along ethno-religious lines? More than half of the 8 million voters who voted on 8th March voted to reject communal-based politics. Are you not perpetuating the very brand of politics that those who voted you in have rejected?”.

It was against this backdrop of concerns that Anwar and Azmin might be on a Muslim agenda  that I keenly followed and reported, first, the divisional elections, and, more recently, the national leadership elections.

And my reports were mostly negative of the whole electoral process, much to the annoyance of many.

On two occasions, I produced proof.

First, in the matter of whether Nurul had received sufficient nominations to contest for the Deputy Presidency, and then, this matter of ballot papers being readily available outside the election halls.

Now, I have to say that when I got word of a hastily convened press conference by the party Sec-Gen with President and Deputy President in tow, to be held last Sunday, I hoped that we might finally hear that the party was going to investigate the matter of these ballots and the numerous other complaints that I understand have been lodged with either the secretariat or the central election committee.

That, as we know, did not happen.

Posted in: Digressions