Pakatan's nominee fails to become Melaka senator in blow to Anwar

A photo taken on Nov 23, 2019, shows Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim during a press conference in Putrajaya.
A photo taken on Nov 23, 2019, shows Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim during a press conference in Putrajaya.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR - A motion to nominate Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim's choice as Melaka's representative to the federal senate was stunningly defeated on Monday (Nov 25) after two assemblymen from his party were absent during the vote.

The failure of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Melaka government's motion comes amid an increasingly bitter internal feud between Datuk Seri Anwar and PKR deputy chief Azmin Ali, which has already seen a public spat between the two camps over the validity of last weekend's Sarawak state-level annual congress.

Melaka Chief Minister Adly Zahari, from PH component Parti Amanah Negara (PAN), holds a narrow two-seat majority in the 28-strong legislative, with one of his state Cabinet members (known as executive councillors or exco) Saminathan Ganesan currently detained under security laws due to alleged links to terror group Tamil Tigers.

But with two PKR exco absent, the party's Melaka chief Halmi Bachik failed to be elected as one of the state's two Senators as all 13 assemblymen from the opposition Umno voted against him.

Mr Adly told a press conference on Monday that his government will undertake a "post mortem" into the loss, as well as the absence of the two PKR representatives.

"I did not expect this decision but I do not see any elements of sabotage," he said.

However, a top PKR official from Economic Affairs Minister Azmin's faction told The Straits Times that they had already told the chief minister they would not support Mr Anwar's choice for the vacant senatorship.

"We gave him a different candidate but he decided to proceed with Halim," said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The rare defeat for a sitting government comes even as rumours have swirled in the past month that Mr Adly would face a confidence vote.

 
 
 

The Anwar-Azmin battle has raised doubts over whether the former will eventually take over power from Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad as agreed by PH leaders prior to their shock win at the 2018 general election.

Datuk Seri Azmin met with a reported 22 Umno MPs last week and his supporters in the party, including Sarawak chief Baru Bian have reacted angrily to the deputy president being denied the customary honour of opening the youth wing's national congress next month.

Mr Anwar's faction appeared to respond Sunday to Mr Azmin's apparent shows of strength with the sacking of Works Minister Baru's former political secretary Zakaria Hamid from the party and its central leadership over allegations of graft.