LAST week’s political assemblies were not short of irony, as the days alternated between sudden spikes in fisticuffs and sobriety.
It was when the country witnessed the biggest ruling component quickly perforated by disunity; a fledgling splinter fostered a stronger bond between members; and a party labelled as the “most corrupt” is riding high over grievances and allegations.
Malaysian politics remains as fluid as it was since the change of government in the last national polls, and almost satirical.
The PKR congress, of course, leads by example in terms of negating the purpose of a party assembly — the brawl between its Youth factions and backbiting among party leaders reflect PKR’s political maturity and speak volumes about its ability to run the nation.
Some analysts have opined that infighting in PKR is “normal”, which does not bode well for a ruling camp.
A successful united front, even if only by perception, could have gone a long way in terms of public acceptance and policy implementation.
While PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has managed to rally a majority of party members amid a tensed atmosphere, the other faction led by his deputy Datuk Seri Azmin Ali is another headache which seeks a remedial compromise. The dinner hosted by the latter on the night the congress ended, showcased the brilliance of a rabble-rouser that should not be underestimated.
Azmin had proven his leadership capabilities during Anwar’s incarceration and commute between courtrooms, overshadowing the then party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s gentle grip on power.
With his legion of influential supporters, including vice-presidents Zuraida Kamaruddin and Tian Chua, as well as leadership council member R. Sivarasa, Azmin is not to be trifled with.
But in a peculiar turn of events after Azmin’s fiery speech against his boss behind the rostrum on Sunday, he extended an olive branch to Anwar, leaving the prime minister-in-waiting’s next move to be pondered upon. Will he accept the offer, or respond with another snide remark?
An observer raised a series of simple yet insightful questions on PKR’s seeming indifference to its implosion.
“Is PKR being too arrogant to address the possible ramifications of its internal issues? Have they taken a look at the problem and reflected on it? Do they need more time (to resolve issues) or will whatever plans they have merely become lip service? What can they do to restore their waning support?”
Or, on a lighter note, is Azmin simply protesting like a child who has been hurt by his father’s preferential treatment? It is a matter for Anwar to ruminate on, and a simple sacking to remove an intensifying pain may not do.
On the other hand, Parti Amanah Negara, which was often viewed as an unsubstantial amoebic party — due to its rather opaque party objectives — has now risen to be noticed by observers as a stable organisation.
Its assembly saw party polls that many had earlier overlooked, and some unabashedly honest, constructive criticisms by delegates, who mostly touched on communication, economy, and bread-and-butter issues.
There were no punch-ups, flying kicks and yanking of hair. Its party polls, while mirroring the system employed by DAP, is deemed acceptable by party members who, for now, believe it as relevant due to Amanah’s young age and membership.
The party is moving forward. Surprisingly, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu has proven to detractors his leadership worth.
And across the political divide, an enemy is growing stronger by the day, especially through the support of Malay hardliners. Or at least that is the promoted discernment, following the state of unpopularity currently experienced by Pakatan Harapan.
Umno’s assembly was not as morose as it was last year, after its defeat in the general election. Although Barisan Nasional had only won four out of the nine by-elections held to date, Umno is walking with its head held high and brimming with confidence that it has regained the people’s general support.
Umno’s nexus with Pas and Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s charm offensive are said to be scoring favourable points, regardless of the party’s dependence on allies. It has even now included the shouts of “takbir” in its rallying cry.
On the surface, Umno has managed to piece itself together
slowly since the temporary leadership of deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, even at a time when many of its leaders are now facing tens of corruption charges involving millions of ringgit. It was also a platform for Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to reinstate his influence after taking leave from the party since December last year till June.
The party’s morale is on the rise.
But Umno and BN, for instance, have often fallen prey to their confidence. Their previous arrogance, which was fuelled by political successes, resulted in the declining support and ultimate defeat; being inebriated with past achievements is an act of sheer folly.
Some members still believe that the protest votes against PH during the Tanjung Piai by-election were actual votes in support of BN. And many more are convinced that PH will end up as a “one term-government” solely due to the landslide victory.
It is worth pointing out here that while politics is a numbers game, the vote count does not necessarily reflect concrete sentiments.
Consequently, the three assemblies last week provided a general outlook of the respective parties’ future and direction.
Will PKR choose to heal its rift? Will Amanah become truly relevant? Or will Umno rise from the ashes only to find itself tripping over a self-induced grandeur?
The country’s ever-dynamic political landscape is steadily keeping observers guessing, deducting and analysing.