Chaos at PKR youth meeting as sacked chairman insists on entry

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Skirmishes broke out as some delegates found it difficult to enter the hall as security closed the glass doors to vet entrants. ST PHOTO: HAZLIN HASSAN

MELAKA - Simmering tensions between warring factions in Malaysia's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) led to violent scuffles at its youth congress on Friday (Dec 6) despite a truce earlier in the week.

The chaos started when organisers barred non-delegates from entering the hall at the Melaka International Trade Centre, including the recently sacked youth wing permanent chairman Mizan Adli Noor.

Mr Mizan and deputy youth chief Hilman Idham, allies of deputy president Azmin Ali, had previously challenged the dismissal and insisted Mr Mizan would chair the meeting.

But despite a declaration from the Registrar of Societies that his election as chair at the party polls last year was invalid, Mr Mizan insisted he had the right to witness the official announcement during proceedings.

"I don't want the position. But it is my right to enter," he said.

The stand-off led to a prolonged scuffle between black-clad security personnel and pro-Azmin members in blue, with Mr Mizan managing to force his way into the hall.

However, he was later ejected by security when he tried to approach the front table reserved for the youth leadership.

Mr Mizan's removal from the room occurred while information chief Shamsul Iskandar Akin, representing the central leadership council, conducted the election of the new chairman and deputy. Youth chief Akmal Nasir, allied to party president Anwar Ibrahim, then made his opening speech.

But skirmishes continued to break out at the glass doors leading into the hall as the congress was taking place.

Mr Mizan later told a press conference he would file a police report against the "illegal" vote to replace him, which saw Melaka youth secretary Rashid Abu Bakar elected without contest.

"As the permanent chair elected at the last congress... I should have been able to go inside and chair proceedings even if you want to change (the chair)," he said.

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The atmosphere calmed down after Mr Akmal concluded his policy address and delegates began speaking. He later told reporters that as youth chief, he takes responsibility for the disturbance.

"The attempt to enter without courtesy and against security, endangers the delegates inside the room," he said of Mr Mizan's entry.

Mr Akmal, however, said he would have to check on who were the over 100 young people in black T-shirts with party logos - appearing to be in their teens - who had filled the back of the hall. Many of them were involved in the violence.

The Johor Baru MP added that while the party's disciplinary board would look into any complaints, any violent conduct would come under the purview of police investigations.

Fights involving the young people in black had also continued in the streets outside the Melaka International Trade Centre.

Datuk Seri Anwar said stern action would be taken against such offensive behaviour and that he had asked the party disciplinary board to sack those involved in the incident.

"I have also asked the police to investigate and take necessary action," the PKR president said, in a statement released on Friday.

Police said on Friday that two individuals have been arrested in connection with the brawl, and were being investigated for rioting.

The chaos at the Youth Congress of PKR, the largest party in Malaysia's ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition, is a sign that internal divisions remain an issue despite the two factions having come to a truce earlier in the week.

Mr Anwar and Datuk Seri Azmin, the Economic Affairs Minister, had met on Wednesday, ending weeks of rising hostilities between their two camps.

They agreed that Mr Azmin would resume the traditional duty of officiating the youth assembly on Wednesday night in exchange for promising that his faction would not boycott the four-day congress in Melaka.

Until that meeting, there had been talk that this week's party congress would force PKR to splinter.

PKR had justified the sacking of Mr Mizan and his deputy Ramly Ahmad by saying they were over the youth age limit of 35 when elected.

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