PORT DICKSON (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The top leadership at PKR, the largest party in Malaysia's ruling coalition, are at loggerheads over recent internal appointments, with president Anwar Ibrahim telling his deputy Azmin Ali not to air his grouses in the media.
Datuk Seri Azmin had issued a statement on Saturday (Dec 29) urging Datuk Seri Anwar to review recent appointments to Parti Keadilan Rakyat's central leadership council (MPP).
Mr Azmin claimed that the appointments did not reflect the members' principle of "fair and just representation" and would not help the party to move forward.
Asked to respond to the statement, Mr Anwar said although his deputy was entitled to his personal views, party matters should be discussed within the organisation.
Mr Anwar also defended his recent decision to appoint vice-presidents to the council, adding to those who were elected in the November party polls.
Among those appointed was former Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli, who had lost the deputy presidency to Mr Azmin in a closely-fought race, and is widely seen as allied to Mr Anwar.
Two main factions emerged in the fractious and occasionally violent party polls, one allied to Mr Anwar and the other to Mr Azmin.
Mr Anwar said he had decided to be inclusive when making the new appointments.
"I want to be inclusive... he wants some people out. I want everybody in... that's the difference," he told reporters after launching the Anwar Ibrahim Cup football tournament.
Mr Anwar's wife, Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, also defended the appointment of Mr Rafizi as vice-president, saying it was the prerogative of the party president to chose whomever he thinks suitable.
Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah, who chairs the PKR advisory council, said Mr Rafizi received a large number of votes at the deputy presidency race. He garnered some 62,700 votes against Mr Azmin's 67,400.
"It is the prerogative of the president to choose whoever (to sit in the council)," she told reporters on Saturday, after an event in Kuala Lumpur.
Other recently appointed PKR vice-presidents were Tanjung Malim MP Chang Lih Kang and Saratok MP Ali Biju.
Mr Anwar said in a statement on Friday that the new MPP line-up comprised a mix of leaders from across the country representing groups of various races, religions and ages, which was the core strength of PKR.
Hang Tuah Jaya MP Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin was named the party's information chief while Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad was announced as PKR's supervising secretary.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail remained as secretary-general while Semambu assemblyman Lee Chean Chung was appointed PKR treasurer-general.
According to Mr Azmin, who is Minister of Economic Affairs, some of the appointees were "directly involved in the non-transparent election process and caused divisions in the party".
He also said the secretary-general position should be helmed by a professional who understands management and administration.
"Similarly, the MPP's appointment should be based on merit and not as political allies or bribe to win the vote in MPP," Mr Azmin said. He said he had conveyed his opinion to Mr Anwar weeks ago and urged him to focus on the party's strong and inclusive future.
Mr Anwar said he had also appointed individuals from Mr Azmin's faction as vice-presidents.
"I know he is very personal against one or two candidates. But I have taken everybody in, including people from his faction," he said. "The important thing is that you cannot deny the need to bring everybody in," he added.
In a tweet on Saturday widely seen as a jibe at Mr Azmin, Mr Anwar said: "If only some people focused more on growing the economy, and less on politicking."