Isnin, Oktober 12, 2009

Appointing ‘outsiders’: Wrong move by PKR

dari ChangkatNingkeBTP


Paul Sir's article should be seriously considered by the top guns of KEADILAN. Lots of interesting points to be pondered upon. Even KEADILAN is also having a problem of leadership in Selangor with a local as the leader.


Paul Sir
Monday, 12 October 2009 12:49

OPINION For the sake of giving an honest view of this subject, allow me as a Sarawakian to call a spade a spade.

While I can readily call myself a Malaysian, at times not with much pride (for obvious reasons), I will also consider those from Peninsular Malaysia ‘outsiders’. By that, I mean they are not Sarawakians but “Orang Malaya”.

I’m sorry but I have to say this. Because of the ways so many events have been played out in our nation, I have yet to fully grasp the 1Malaysia Concept espoused by our prime minister. To me, Najib Abdul Razak’s slogan is also nothing new. We have been talking about one Malaysia since Independence.

The term ‘outsider’ can be considered quite ‘undiplomatic’. It connotes an unwanted presence – as ‘outsiders’ mean those not from within but, as its name implies, outside.

However, I have no qualms about using the word when discussing politics. It’s all part of straight talking as politics is also about the art of courageously using the ‘wrong’ word (deliberately even) at the correct time when situations warrant it.

anwar-srwak-sbah2.jpgLet me try to give a clearer explanation by reviewing the situation of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in Sarawak and Sabah today.

In March this year, PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim took over as state PKR chairman in Sarawak and Sabah. To party members in the two East Malaysian states, Anwar is considered an ‘outsider’. He is not a resident from either state.

Anwar an 'acceptable' outsider

Well, the PKR boss may have valid reasons for doing so. Previous chairmen of the party’s state liaison committees in the two states might not have lived up to his expectation. So in a move to revamp and improve the set-up of his party in Sabah and Sarawak, Anwar took over as its chair.

So far, there were no complaints from party leaders and members in the two states. If there were any, it did not enter the public domain. So we can assume all was okay.

Anwar also has the clout and stature even though he is an outsider. We can conclude that he was an acceptable outsider to PKR members in Sabah and Sarawak.

Two months later, however, Anwar gave up the posts citing heavy commitments at home and abroad. He just could not give much of his time nor attention to party affairs in Sarawak and Sabah.

He appointed two persons to replace him. Party vice-president Mustaffa Kamil Ayub took over the Sarawak chair while another veep, Azmin Ali, the Sabah side.

And I believe this is when problems started to arise within PKR in the two East Malaysian states. And this is where the term ‘outsiders’ has a very negative connotation.

Right from the time when their appointments were announced, many local PKR leaders in Sarawak and Sabah already did not take it too kindly.

With due respect to the two gentlemen, Mustaffa and Azmin just do not possess the Anwar charisma nor stature to lead the party in the two states. In short, they were ‘unacceptable outsiders’.

I think I am able to appreciate and understand local sentiments. If I were a PKR member (which I am not) I would find it difficult to accept Mustaffa as my top leader in Sarawak.

Think of the reversed situation

Why? Simple. I don’t even know him. I wonder how many PKR leaders and members in Sarawak know who he is.

He may be a good and able leader but that’s not the point. The issue is why a local Sarawakian or Sabahan not appointed to head the party in their own states. Why appoint ‘outsiders’?

gabriel adit.jpgPut it this way. Try appointing Gabriel Adit (right) to head Selangor PKR or Dominique Ng to lead Penang PKR and see whether they could be accepted by party leaders and members in those two states.

Local sentiments will make it difficult for them to function effectively there because Adit and Ng are considered outsiders in Selangor and Penang.

Similarly, I doubt PKR people in Malacca or Negri Sembilan would be able to accept Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, a Sabahan, as their state chief. Why? Because Jeffrey is an outsider.

Anwar Ibrahim had said that the appointments of Mustaffa and Azmin were only temporary but a mistake has been made, even if it is only a temporary mistake. Damage has been done.

Anwar should have allowed senior PKR leaders to elect an acceptable local leader from among themselves. In Sarawak, don’t tell me that people like Nicholas Bawin, Baru Bian, Jewah Gerang, Adit, Dominique and others are not qualified nor suitable to lead the party in the state.

Granted, they may have differences among themselves (but isn’t that normal in politics) but a local leader, and not an outsider, would still be the more preferred and acceptable choice.

DAP has done very well in this aspect. All their leaders in Sabah and Sarawak are locals. PKR can learn a thing or two from their ally in Pakatan Rakyat.

It’s the same situation in Sabah. Why were Jeffrey Kitingan, Ansari Abdullah or Kong Hong Ming not appointed to head Sabah PKR?

Why was Azmin Ali appointed instead? What is so right about Azmin that is so wrong with Jeffrey, Ansari or Kong Hong Ming.

As far as I know, these three are very senior politicians and Azmin can be considered very junior in comparison.

In Sarawak, Gabriel Adit is a five-term state assemblyman and Jewah Gerang is a veteran MP. Mustaffa is nowhere near Adit or Jewah in terms of experience and seniority in politics. So how can you expect these veterans to accept a junior as their boss.

jeffrey-kitingan.jpgAnd let’s not forget that most politicians have very big ego.

The notion of finding a ‘neutral’ man to lead in Sabah and Sarawak does not hold in this case. Local sentiments is paramount. It’s a pity Anwar did not pay much attention to this…or did he?

Trouble brewing

Last week, we begin to see tension and disillusionment within the ranks of PKR in Sarawak and Sabah. I believe it has a lot to do with the ‘outsider’ issue.

azmin ali.jpgGabriel Adit is on the way to form a new party, speculated to be named Pakatan Rakyat Sarawak. His party is scheduled to be launched on Oct 15. Ten months ago, he was given a rousing welcome when he joined PKR.

Where did Adit or PKR go wrong? We can continue to speculate but at the end of it all, Adit must have realized that PKR may not be the political platform he was looking for.

Over in Sabah, a group of division chiefs have expressed no confidence in the leadership of recently appointed state chief Azmin Ali. They wanted Azmin removed and proposed Jeffrey Kitingan to take over.

Azmin had since responded that he was prepared to give up the Sabah chair and would notify Anwar of his decision.

It is clear in the case of Sabah that the PKR leadership was wrong to have appointed an ‘outsider’ to head the party in the state.

Anwar Ibrahim will have some soul-searching to do and must act quickly as trouble is already brewing within his party in Sabah and Sarawak where he is, unfortunately, also an ‘outsider’.

(This article first appeared in The Borneo Post but has been updated. Comments can reach the writer at paulsir99@hotmail.com)

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