On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Squabbles within and without

Last week, PKR information chief Latheefa Koya wrote an angry letter to Malaysiakini advising the online news portal to avoid “being manipulated”.

She also took offence with Malaysiakini on its reports quoting unnamed sources “that have been exaggerated or told half-truths or simply lies of party affairs”.

The reports included “Sabah chief throws tantrums at PKR meet” and the purported resignation of PKR secretary-general Salehuddin Hashim, she wrote in her Oct 28 letter.

But a day earlier, Sabah PKR leader Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan had quit as a national vice-president. His resignation from the party now seems inevitable.

On Thursday, Port Klang Assemblyman Badrul Hisham resigned from PKR. Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim had to hurriedly issue a statement urging Badrul to resign and branding him a non-performer – about three hours before Badrul’s press conference.

In the case of Salehuddin, he has texted reporters with a simple denial of reports of his growing frustrations. Most times, he refuses to answer telephone calls.

But some PKR leaders including MPs have privately told the media that they would probably lose Salehuddin, saying he is “on hold” only because of an appeal from party adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

On Thursday, PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail finally admitted that the party was facing a problem.

“The frustrations which have been expressed by some colleagues within the party and by some supporters are valid,” she said.

There is no smoke without fire.

Politicians and journalists have a love-hate relationship but they cannot live without each other. On their part, journalists are used to being accused by politicians of “having an agenda”. On the other hand, most politicians have an agenda, and so they perceive that journalists live and think like them.

Journalists often tell each other that when they are being bashed by both sides of the political divide – meaning the Government and opposition – they are doing all right.

Supporters, too, often get carried away, expecting the media to be anti-government before they are regarded as credible and objective.

Thus, when Malaysiakini, often perceived as unfriendly to the Barisan Nasional, reported on the feuding in PKR, the party found it hard to accept.

Against the backdrop of this resentment in PKR, former friends of Anwar, like Datuk K.S. Nallakaruppan and Ezam Mohd Nor, are making serious insinuations against Anwar and his protégé Azmin Ali, a vice-president.

They have left Malaysians wondering what they are talking about as there has been no response from those they implicated. Being more specific, unfortunately, could get them sued.

Depending on which side you are on, Nalla and Ezam are either traitors or opportunists – or simply former allies who know too much about the main PKR players. But the fact is that both went to jail for Anwar.

Ezam was jailed under the Official Secrets Act and the Internal Security Act while Nala, Anwar’s close friend for 30 years, was sentenced to prison for unlawful possession of live ammunition.

Another PKR ally, PAS, has found itself squabbling over the direction of the Islamist party. The cause of the rift is almost unthinkable, proving the point that there is no permanent enemy or friend in politics, only common interest.

Party spiritual adviser Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat wants PAS to get rid of “problematic leaders” – meaning those, including president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, who have been accused of wanting to cooperate with Umno.

Nik Aziz, the Kelantan Mentri Besar, has gone on to say that he is prepared to fight those who pursue this aim even if it means wrecking the party.

As a result, some of those implicated by Nik Aziz have come out to say the Umno-PAS deal is over and that they are pro-Pakatan.

The history behind the Umno-PAS unity plan, as most political analysts would be aware of by now, is the uneasy feeling among PAS leaders towards Anwar, who had started to see himself as the next prime minister after the general election.

The much published attempt to grab power by the so-called Sept 16 deadline, via massive defections of Barisan MPs, failed to materialise. A Shadow Cabinet was subsequently planned and announced but until now, the list has not been revealed.

More than a year later, PKR has found itself on the defensive with PAS flexing its muscles to push for and implement its agenda of eventually setting up an Islamic state.

Non-Muslim supporters who voted for PAS then simply because of resentment towards Umno are now coming to realise what their actions in backing PAS could bring.

In Selangor, state PAS chief Datuk Dr Hassan Ali wants the sale of beer to be restricted in certain areas and its youth wing is continuously fussing over concerts involving Western artistes.

One reason megastar Beyonce postponed her Oct 25 concert here was the protest by PAS.

PKR MP Zulkifli Nordin, who sees himself as a defender of Islam, has attempted to push for a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament that would chip away secular laws and replace them with Islamic laws. He, too, pushed to restrict the sale of beer and for action to be taken against Sisters in Islam. He remains untouchable in PKR.