KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has called on Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leader Azmin Ali to remain calm in a public spat with her husband Anwar Ibrahim.
PKR's deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin last week criticised party president Datuk Seri Anwar for making several internal appointments that could worsen the party's factional infighting.
The Anwar-Azmin spat is closely watched as ruling party PKR has 50 MPs, the biggest number of lawmakers in the Malaysian federal Parliament, amid roiling speculation about changing political loyalties and possible defections.
"Keep cool, cool," Dr Wan Azizah said to the media on Monday (Dec 31) evening, when asked to comment on the spat betwee the two PKR leaders.
"I think (Azmin should) let the new president lead the party. We have actually chosen him (to lead). And as he said, it is the prerogative of the president, who is also the unity factor in the party," she said.
Dr Wan Azizah was PKR's president since its founding in 1999, passing the baton to her husband only in August this year.
Economic Affairs Minister Azmin had issued a statement on Saturday (Dec 29) urging Mr Anwar to review recent appointments to PKR's central leadership council.
Mr Azmin claimed the appointments did not reflect the members' principle of "fair and just representation" and would not help the party to move forward.
In response, Mr Anwar said although his deputy was entitled to his personal views, party matters should be discussed within the organisation.
He also defended his recent decision to appoint vice-presidents to the council, adding to those who were elected in the November party polls.
Among other issues, Mr Azmin and his faction in PKR were believed to be unhappy with Mr Anwar appointing Mr Rafizi Ramli as one of the party's new vice-presidents.
Mr Azmin had in November retained his deputy presidency of PKR after fending off a strong challenge from Mr Rafizi.
Mr Azmin thus felt that Mr Rafizi, a staunch Anwar loyalist, should not get any top appointments in the current term.
Deputy PM Dr Wan Azizah, when asked about reports that Mr Azmin might challenge Mr Anwar for the party's presidency in the future, said anybody could do that.
"Anybody can challenge (Anwar). I remember, even in Umno party in the past (someone) challenged (former Umno president) Datuk Onn Jaafar.
"It happens in any political party," she added.
Under its system, PKR has four elected vice-presidents, and three who could be appointed by the leadership.
In the November internal polls, three of the vice-presidents who won were aligned to Mr Azmin. They are federal Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin; Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar; and party stalwart Tian Chua).
The fourth V-P who was elected, Nurul Izzah Anwar, is aligned to Mr Anwar's faction. But Ms Nurul Izzah, Mr Anwar's eldest daughter, abruptly quit all party and government posts last month.
The three V-Ps appointed by Mr Anwar last week were Mr Rafizi and his ally Perak MP Chang Lih Kang; and a loyalist of Mr Azmin, Sarawak MP Ali Biju.