Thursday, April 29, 2010

The problem(s) with PKR

Blame game has started in PKR
Regina Lee
Apr 29, 10
With nearly all bases covered in the post-mortem of the Hulu Selangor by-election, new allegations of internal dissent and discord have surfaced in defeated PKR.

While Pas and DAP could boast of well-oiled machinery, often borrowing experiences of party stalwarts who have seen more elections up close and personal even before many of the party workers were born, PKR is still considered a baby in politics.

And despite Opposition leader and ketua umum Anwar Ibrahim's (left) iron grip on the party, and Pakatan Rakyat for that matter, there was dissent and disharmony visible.

In the run-up to the Hulu Selangor by-election, there were complaints that the PKR machinery was split into three camps: the party machinery under MB Khalid Ibrahim, the party workers mainly aligned to vice-president Azmin Ali and the candidate himself Zaid Ibrahim.

And in wake of the defeat, supporters from each sides are pointing fingers, accusing each other of being weak links.

Malaysiakini understands that many have been unhappy with Khalid's leadership even though he was handpicked by Anwar himself to head the entire machinery for the by-election.

"He was inexperienced and inefficient. He was good at logistics, but he did not know much about anything else. Elections are not just about getting people to set up ceramah tents," said a party source.

The source also complained that Khalid was tight with the purse strings and that he would give unrealistically low sums to run the whole eight days of campaigning.

A top PKR leader also said for the next election in Selangor, Khalid (right) would no longer be heading the team.

"He is just too busy as MB. A lot of people could get away with telling him that they had done something when they had not," said the PKR leader.

Klang MP from DAP Charles Santiago, who was tasked with canvassing the Indian votes, also said that there was just too much responsibility to be an MB and manage the party election machinery.

"There must be a separation of operations. Usually, the nerve centre of any by-election has to come from outside the circle," he said.

The election machinery head on BN's side was, incidentally, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

Member of PKR's political bureau S Manikavasagam, also widely known be a vocal critic of the MB, said that while he did not want to blame anyone, it was clear that he was unhappy with Khalid.

"The machinery did not start work until the by-election was announced. It should have been done the moment (late MP Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad) became very ill.

"Khalid said that he was willing to work 24 hours a day, but what exactly was he doing?"

Zaid headed out on his own

A news portal recently reported that Zaid, fed up with the inefficiency of the PKR machinery, headed out on his own and formed his own team to oversee the campaigning operations.

Party observers have noted that Zaid (left) went off and decided his own schedules and generally did not stick to the plan that the machinery has put in place for him.

"It looks like he doesn't trust the party workers. His people didn't even attend the coordination meetings."

And at the same time, the party workers aligned to Azmin, who incidentally have had famous spats with Zaid in the past, said that Zaid did not know how to campaign.

"When Zaid visited certain areas, he didn't even get down from the car. It even took a lot of effort just to get him to smile and shake hands with the locals," said one of them.

It is also fairly obvious that Zaid had his own agenda on his mind and there were times when the party machinery would not know his schedule or his whereabouts.

Indeed reporters covering the by-election had to check with the party machinery and Khalid's team for an 'official' itinerary, and also for Zaid's own schedule.

Azmin MIA

It was also curious that Azmin, who had been previously speculated to be miffed that he did not get the job to helm the campaign, was noticeably missing.

But it is understandable that as chief whip, he had to hold fort at parliamentary sittings which coincided with the campaigning dates. And so the skilled orator hardly took to the stage at the ceramah.

While Azmin (right) has repeatedly stressed that there is no rift between himself and Zaid, as well as Khalid, there was not much sign of him between nomination day until the final leg of campaigning.

"In previous elections, Azmin gave 100 percent, but in this election, he didn't. Frankly I don't know why, maybe he was afraid Zaid might take over," said Manikavasagam while refusing to elaborate further.

However, many of the parties, including PKR elections director Fuziah Salleh were quick to quell rumours of disunity in the ranks.

"The allegations are baseless. I don't deny that we have our own weaknesses, but all the leaders worked very hard," she said.

Arrogance in the office

While the PKR machinery may need to take a step back and take a further look at the machinery to improve it, much will still have to be done to keep the party in touch with the people.

Santiago also said that apart from the lack of cohesion in the machinery especially at the grassroots level, many of the MPs and assemblymen from the various folds of Pakatan Rakyat had "airs".

"Some of the YBs think that they need an invitation to go help out with the campaigning. They would rather not go from house-to-house but prefer the ceramah circuit instead.

"At every night, there are five to six speakers when time is better used to meet the voters on a personal basis," he said.

Manikavasagam also quipped: "If all the Excos think that they are federal ministers, we are finished".

1 - 1 of 1 comments

by swaysiao - an hour ago

YB Manikavasagam I think you are perfectly right in saying that if the excos behave like Federal Ministers their days are doomed. The rakyat have chosen them and they should be humble enough and go to the ground without being invited. Do not go to voters only you need their votes during election. This apply to all Pakatan MPs and state assembly persons. In Jelutong, we hardly see our MP Jeff Ooi and state assemblyman Koid going round to meet their voters in all their areas. YB Koid could come around on foot with his louder speaker during last election.

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