A Parti Keadilan Rakyat special congress tomorrow could decide whether Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (pic) remains as the party's unelected supreme leader or take on the role of an elected president, an issue that has divided the party leadership in recent months, say party insiders.
They said, at present, there was no formal provision for the position of supreme leader or "ketua umum" in their constitution and PKR would not amend its constitution to create such a post for Anwar.
“If there is a move to amend the constitution and create such a post, it is bound to create problems with the Registrar of Societies,” a PKR leader told The Malaysian Insider in Kuala Lumpur.
“Because of the difficulty in formalising Anwar’s supreme leader post, he will now have to consider taking over from his wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, as the PKR president."
Anwar’s role in the party has been a subject of much debate among two factions with many saying that he will have to make a decision to avoid further clashes in the party.
One group wants Anwar to remain as supreme leader and is seeking amendments to the party constitution to make the "supreme leader" post part of the leadership hierarchy. Under this proposal, Dr Wan Azizah will continue to be its president.
The second group favours Anwar taking over as party chief with Dr Wan Azizah retiring after leading the party since its inception in 1999. However, some party leaders believe that taking over as the PKR president will create complications for Anwar in the leadership structure of Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
“Some believe his stature will be dented once he takes over as he is seen to above partisan politics. If he is PKR president, he will be on a par with PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng,” said the same source.
Another view is that Anwar as PKR president will pose little problem in the Pakatan hierarchy as DAP and PAS have already accepted Anwar as the coalition’s choice for prime minister if it captures Putrajaya. A party lawmaker said many want to see Anwar installed as president as it would strengthen the party and formalise his position within it.
He said the position of supreme leader was one fashioned after political parties in Indonesia. “Earlier, the post was relevant in the PKR scheme of things as Anwar was barred from holding political positions after his release from jail.
“But that is no longer valid. And there is no reason Anwar cannot lead PKR now,” said the PKR lawmaker, who noted that Dr Wan Azizah had stepped aside for Anwar to contest the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat in 2008 as soon as he was eligible to take part in politics.
Sunday’s PKR congress in Selangor will not just decide Anwar’s role in the party but also institute changes which will make it easier for those aspiring to contest posts in the party elections. “After this congress, anyone who wants to contest a higher position in PKR will no longer need a nomination from the party’s branches.
“They only need a proposer and seconder, and the candidate can contest,” said party vice-president Chua Tian Chang, who is popularly known as Tian Chua.
PKR leads the Selangor government while its allies, PAS and DAP, helm the state leadership in Kelantan and Penang, with Anwar widely seen holding the pact together.
In the May 5 general election, PKR won 30 parliamentary seats which was one short of its performance in the 2008 polls. DAP won 38 parliamentary seats while PAS picked up 21 federal seats in the polls. – November 23, 2013.