Splits emerge within ranks of Anwar's party in Malaysia

While opposition leader disputes the results of Sunday's election, his deputy says let's move on

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 May, 2013, 1:35am

Less than a week after Malaysia's opposition led by the charismatic Anwar Ibrahim posted its best election performance yet, dissent has broken out within his People's Justice Party (PKR), worrying his coalition partners.

As Anwar goes on a roadshow calling for people to reject the country's May 5 election results, which returned the ruling National Front coalition to power, his deputy wants people to accept the poll outcome.

"All I am asking, while we talk about electoral reform, we must move forward. Work must start," said Mohamed Azmin Ali, deputy president of the PKR.

Azmin, 47, is a founding member of PKR and spent almost his entire career in government serving Anwar, first as his special officer and later as his private secretary when the latter became finance minister and later deputy prime minister.

During a press conference at PKR headquarters, it was packed with party members. Some said they attended to support Azmin.

On Wednesday, Azmin tweeted: "Accept the people's decision. Move forward with the policy of caring for the people and not bullying them for the sake of the country's peace and prosperity." His tweet came as Anwar led a 50,000-strong crowd at a rally to reject the election results.

"He [Azmin] is suggesting that the party accepts the results of the election and move forward. I agree with this," said Wan Saiful Wan Jan, chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs.

The institute is an independent think tank, which monitored the election.

Azmin also spoke out against an alleged practice of decisions being made in the PKR without consulting party members, saying it went against the spirit of reform.

"I do not want the practice of nepotism to become the practice in Keadilan. Keadilan is a reformist party," said Azmin, referring to the PKR by its Malay name.

Zuraida Kamaruddin, who was re-elected as a member of parliament and heads the women's wing of the party, said Azmin was right in bringing up this issue.

"This process of decision-making without consultation has been going on for five years."

Azmin's dissent comes amid disagreement over the candidate for the post of chief minister for Selangor, the country's richest and most populous state.

Local media reported that Azmin had expressed interest in taking on the job himself.

Anwar's opposition People's Alliance coalition is a collection of different ideologies. The PKR is multiracial, the Democratic Action Party is dominated by Chinese and the third partner, Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS), is the oldest.

A senior PAS member, Dzukefly Ahmad, said the dissent in PKR was worrying.

"This is coming so soon after the election. Whatever happens, there will be collateral damage on us," he said.