KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — The collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government last week has turned its then biggest party PKR on its head, especially as 11 of its own MPs had quit the party and now support the new Perikatan Nasional government.
Most PKR leaders have now kept mum on the situation, some even refusing to entertain calls and text messages asking about the situation within the party that was unexpectedly ousted from the government and shorn of a major faction that quit for ally-turned-rival Bersatu.
Party leaders have withdrawn and are instead using prepared statements and pre-recorded videos to try and rally the spirits of members and supporters, even as its chances of challenging Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s claim of majority in Parliament is dwindling due to the sitting now delayed.
Meanwhile, PKR President Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim now has his hands full trying to keep the party together, as allies of sacked former deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and former vice-president Zuraida Kamaruddin are said to have stayed within the party.
In Selangor, Azmin’s political secretary and Gombak Setia state assemblyman Hilman Idham was sacked along with Zuraida’s aide Nor Hizwan Ahmad.
Selangor Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Amiruddin Shari who before political tumult was seen to be aligned with Azmin, has apparently made a deal with Anwar and pledged his support to the party’s president in a public statement on Wednesday.
“I am a party man. Selangor is the first state that said it will not stray away from PH,” he told reporters in Shah Alam on Thursday, his first appearance after last week.
He has since on Thursday booted out Bersatu from the state government. PH still enoys two-thirds majority in Selangor.
However, there is still noise on the ground that Amiruddin and the other so-called “Cartel” members ― the moniker given to Azmin’s faction ― should be kicked out once and for all.
“Some party members think these are traitors, and Amiruddin has been giving them places in the Selangor government,” a party leader close to Anwar’s camp told the Malay Mail on condition of anonymity.
The source however admitted that no one in the current Selangor line-up have the experience or influence, to replace Amiruddin’s leadership for now.
“That’s it. If Amiruddin proved his loyalty not to Azmin, but to the party, he can be a main man in the party in the future,” said the source.
Meanwhile in Penang, former PKR Youth deputy chief Dr Afif Bahardin ― known to be close to the Cartel ― has claimed that he had resigned as state executive councillor because he was pressured to do so by the party’s state and central leadership.
He, however, said he is still a PKR member as his position in the party is still being reviewed by the party disciplinary board and leadership.
“I am still a party member and Seberang Jaya state assemblyman,” he said during a press conference at his house on Wednesday.
Dr Afif said he decided to relinquish his position as the state Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, Rural Development and Health Committee chairman after being advised to do so by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow during their meeting early that day.
He was at odds with the PKR Youth chief, Akmal Nasrallah Mohd Nasir and was blocked and subsequently assaulted when he tried to get into the party’s Youth Congress in Melaka in December last year.
The 35-year-old former medical officer also said he is committed to the struggle of the party in defending the right of Malaysians despite “offers” from other parties.
“I received a lot of offers from other political parties but I am committed in my stand that this country should be led by people-centric leadership and with integrity,” he said.
On the same day, Penang PKR Chief Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik warned that stern action would be taken against its members who betray the party and tarnish its good name found several of the party divisions committing acts of political sabotage.
Penang, which Anwar’s home state, has also been ravaged by mass exodus of grassroots party members as reportedly 2,500 party members from nine divisions in Penang reportedly claimed to have quit the party.
The nine divisions were: Jelutong, Tanjong, Balik Pulau, Bayan Baru, Bukit Gelugor, Tasek Gelugor, Bagan, Batu Kawan and Nibong Tebal.
Another source from the party weighed in that Anwar should now gain the trust of division leaders who can put the interests of the party above personalities in order to combat these rebellions.
The source said Anwar’s way of delegating power in the party had unfortunately led some of his lieutenants to act unfairly against such party leaders, who ultimately left the party or ended up sabotaging the party from within.
“There is a lot of party leaders who may be miffed with Datuk Seri Anwar’s men but they still hold the party’s struggle in the highest regard. I think as the president, [Anwar] should consolidate all these leaders. Their grassroots will follow,” said the source.
The source named several leaders including Datuk Rashid Hasnon, Tan Sri Nallakaruppan and others who have left the party after being “attacked” by some of Anwar’s lieutenants through internal politics.
“As a leader, it is his job to ensure they would fight as a team,” said the source, referring to Anwar, without elaborating.
At the tail-end of the week-long political upheaval, Anwar had urged PH to move on, following the formation of a new federal government .
Anwar, when asked whether he felt he was robbed from becoming Malaysia’s eighth prime minister by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, did not affirm the suggestion outright but pointed out it was lost as a result of treachery and betrayal from those within his party.
PKR currently hold 39 Parliamentary seats in the 222-person Dewan Rakyat.