PKR rift worsens with graft claim

PKR deputy president and Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali.
PKR deputy president and Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali. PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Corruption allegations, disagreements over electoral contests shake up opposition party

KUALA LUMPUR • The infighting in Malaysia's opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) looks set to become worse with one of its leaders alleging corruption in Selangor state, and receiving a strong rebuttal that the allegation was "irresponsible and wild".

Mr Rafizi Ramli, a vice-president of PKR, caused a stir in opposition circles on Thursday when he said in a WhatsApp message that he has received complaints that "money and women are requested during negotiations" with unnamed persons working with the Selangor state. He would not give further details when pressed by reporters yesterday.

PKR deputy president Azmin Ali is the Menteri Besar of Selangor, Malaysia's most industrialised state and one of the three ruled by the opposition. PKR heads the Selangor state government.

Responding to the allegations, Mr Azmin said: "While it is our declared policy to have a fully accountable and transparent government with a zero tolerance for corruption, we are at the same time duty-bound to protect the good name and reputation of our civil servants and executives from irresponsible and wild accusations."

The Azmin-Rafizi fight comes just days after a letter from prison by their leader Anwar Ibrahim admonished some PKR leaders for being overly enthusiastic about a campaign headed by ex-premier Mahathir Mohamad to topple Prime Minister Najib Razak.

TRANSPARENCY AND REPUTATION

While it is our declared policy to have a fully accountable and transparent government with a zero tolerance for corruption, we are at the same time duty-bound to protect the good name and reputation of our civil servants and executives from irresponsible and wild accusations.

MR AZMIN ALI, PKR deputy president and Menteri Besar of Selangor.

Mr Azmin is one of the strong PKR proponents of Dr Mahathir's Save Malaysia campaign. And the latest kerfuffle comes just two weeks after the opposition performed badly in the Sarawak state elections. The poor showing was blamed on infighting between PKR and its ally, the Democratic Action Party.

Adding to the turmoil, Mr Azmin this week revealed that PKR wants to contest a by-election in Selangor, effectively shunting aside the wishes of its close ally Parti Amanah Negara. He has also upset another ally in Selangor, Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), that is keen to contest too.

PKR has long been divided between those who support Anwar's wife and party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and those who support her deputy, Mr Azmin.

Mr Rafizi, who is allied with Dr Wan Azizah, said yesterday that "as a reform party", PKR "must be whiter than white" in dealing with corruption allegations.

Mr Azmin hit back, saying in a statement: "In conducting such a vicious and reckless attack, the perpetrators have sullied the good name, reputation and integrity of our state civil service, as well as the executive councillors who have contributed so tirelessly and efficiently to bring development and socio-economic progress to the state." He said that accusers must produce proof.

A Selangor assemblyman from the DAP, Mr Rajiv Rishyakaran, asked Mr Rafizi to lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission if he has evidence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2016, with the headline 'PKR rift worsens with graft claim'. Print Edition | Subscribe