PETALING JAYA - A vice-president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Rafizi Ramli, warned party president Anwar Ibrahim that the Opposition Leader is in grave danger of losing everything by surrounding himself with "hardcore opportunists".
The warning from Mr Rafizi came as infighting hit opposition party PKR, local media reported on Sunday (Dec 13).
This followed widespread sharing of social media screenshots involving PKR Youth leaders who allegedly made fun of Datuk Seri Anwar's failure to get majority support from MPs to become Malaysia's next prime minister, The Star daily reported.
Mr Anwar in October claimed he had strong support from a majority of MPs to topple the Perikatan Nasional government, but has so far failed to do so.
Those allegedly involved in disparaging Mr Anwar in the WhatsApp conversation were PKR Youth chief Akmal Nasir, his deputy Thiban Subbramaniam and the wing's secretary Syukri Razab, according to the Malay Mail news site.
All 14 top PKR Youth leaders on Sunday evening implored their peers to resolve differences through internal channels, Malay Mail reported. They represented the Youth wings in the 13 Malaysian states and the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur.
"We take note of the issue of a leaked screenshot of closed discussions involving the leadership of Angkatan Muda Keadilan (Youth wing) Malaysia," the 14 state wing leaders said in a joint statement.
"We ask all PKR Youth leaders and members at all levels to remain calm, be fair and give space to the leadership to resolve the issue," the statement said.
Mr Rafizi, who has not made any public comments for months, said in a statement on Sunday that he had told Mr Anwar repeatedly to beware of those surrounding him, as these people practise "gangsterism and politics of money and promises".
Mr Rafizi, who is respected in PKR for exposing government excesses when Umno-led Barisan Nasional was in power, said he was speaking up as he had been asked to respond to the screenshots involving Mr Akmal. Mr Akmal was a protege of Mr Rafizi.
Mr Rafizi said that his opinion on the issue is generally known to reformists and party veterans. "I have warned Anwar before, and Akmal's retort has its basis.
"Anwar has to be smarter in choosing those who surround him and become his office's gatekeepers," Mr Rafizi said.
"He had chosen Datuk Seri Azmin Ali the last time round, but see what happened then," said Mr Rafizi.
He was referring to the fallout between Mr Azmin, who was PKR's deputy president and Mr Anwar, which led to a split in PKR and the toppling of the Pakatan Harapan government in February this year.
Mr Rafizi added that those who currently surround Mr Anwar were not in the opposition yet when Mr Anwar was in prison.
"Now, they start targeting leaders like Akmal to be condemned, so that leaders who are a threat can be removed," Mr Rafizi said, without naming names.