PKR releases list of candidates amid party tensions

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (above) is believed to have met with Datuk Seri Azmin Ali to discuss the candidate list.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (above) is believed to have met with Datuk Seri Azmin Ali to discuss the candidate list.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) finally released its list of candidates yesterday, after tensions between its top leaders over the past few days led to mediation by de facto chief Anwar Ibrahim, who is receiving treatment in hospital.

Anwar is still behind bars after a sodomy conviction and is expected to be released in June.

According to the list, Anwar's daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar, a PKR vice-president, will leave her parliamentary constituency in Kuala Lumpur to stand in her father's ward in Permatang Pauh, Penang.

The seat is currently held by her mother and PKR president, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

Permatang Pauh constituency, located on the mainland side of Penang, just north of Perak state, was first won by Anwar in 1982 when he was an Umno leader.

Opposition leaders have claimed that Ms Nurul Izzah's Lembah Pantai seat in KL, which she has held for two terms, is unwinnable after the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition allegedly moved in hundreds of illegal voters.

Dr Wan Azizah will leave Permatang Pauh and contest instead in the Pandan seat in Selangor, currently held by her close ally Rafizi Ramli, another PKR vice-president.

Rafizi cannot stand in the May 9 polls as he was convicted in a whistle-blower case linked to the family of an Umno leader.

PKR deputy president and Selangor Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, will defend his Gombak parliamentary seat and Bukit Antarabangsa state seat.

The list, seen by Malaysiakini online news, showed that some of Mr Azmin's proposed candidates were dropped, but many others were retained.

Tensions between the Wan Azizah-Rafizi and Azmin camps over the list had boiled over into public view in the last few days.

Dr Wan Azizah was seen leaving a public function in Selangor on Sunday, as Mr Azmin started his speech on the rostrum. They had earlier sat at the front row of the event with an empty chair between them, raising a lot of chatter on social media.

In the weeks before the list was released, party members from both factions were throwing darts at one another on social media.

Political activist Ambiga Sreenevasan, who at one time headed electoral reform group Bersih, tweeted on Monday: "When the rakyat (people) are doing everything in their power to overcome obstacles to ensure they can vote and to help in the elections, this nonsense in PKR is unforgivable."

In the end, it was Anwar who helped settle the candidates controversy between Dr Wan Azizah and his close comrade, Mr Azmin.

Anwar was met twice by Mr Azmin on Monday to settle the final list, according to The Star newspaper. The big fight is caused by intense jockeying ahead of PKR's own internal elections later this year, The Star said.

Both factions are keen to ensure that as many of their allies as possible become elected representatives to give them a stronger hand.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2018, with the headline 'PKR releases list of candidates amid party tensions'. Print Edition | Subscribe